Successful Business Planning for the Modern Law Practice, Version 2, is a business planning tool designed to assist lawyers in developing a successful and financially viable practice in the ever-evolving practice of law. The manual includes practical and ethical considerations in developing a business plan and providing representation. Among the tools are sample forms, such as an interactive spreadsheet that calculates the amount of income needed to cover overhead, personnel, and lawyer earnings. There also is a discussion about the value of mentorship and other ways to gain competency, many of which are offered through membership in the Colorado Bar Association.

There is a perception by middle class America that they cannot afford a lawyer. This environment results in a large number of self-represented litigants in the Colorado court system, as well as individuals using the Internet as their sole legal resource to draft wills, leases, business agreements, and other documents. Statistics from the State Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO) show that for fiscal year 2015, 272,000 parties were involved in cases in Colorado courts in which a lawyer never entered an appearance. For instance, in domestic relations cases, 75% (52,524) of parties did not have a lawyer enter their appearance at any time during the case. Similarly, business owners and others who have drafted their own documents become aware of problems and their need for legal advice only when something goes awry.

We thank the Colorado Bar Association staff for their time and energy in shepherding this project. Specifically, we want to acknowledge Sarah Kottoor, Sue Bertram, and Jessica Bednarz in the research, drafting and editing that has resulted in Version 2 of this toolkit.

The practice of law is in a state of flux. This manual is meant to assist lawyers to be successful as the legal landscape shifts. We recommend that you watch for additional programs and CLE’s to understand the nuances of opening a modern law practice. ”

Download Individual Chapters Below

Chapter 1

Business Planning


Chapter 2

Client Intake, Screening and Engagement Agreements


Chapter 3

Pricing, Fee Structures, Billing and Collections


Chapter 4

Get Competent




Chapter 6

Marketing and Business Development


Chapter 7

Brick and Mortar or Virtual


Chapter 8



Chapter 9



Chapter 10

Legal Malpractice Insurance



Much of the information in Successful Business Planning for the Modern Law Practice, Version 2 is based on current laws and practices in Colorado, as well as policies and programs of the federal government. However, this handbook does not contain “approved” guidelines or standards. Attorneys should not let this handbook substitute for their own independent legal judgment based on their specific case and their review of the relevant Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct.


The Colorado Bar Association is committed to compliance with all federal and state antitrust laws. In keeping with that commitment, attorneys are reminded that certain topics are not proper subjects for discussion and consideration by and between competing attorneys. Any action taken to eliminate, restrict, or govern competition among members may constitute a violation of the antitrust laws. If there is any discussion relating to significant factors of competition, an inference may be made that such a discussion is for the purpose of agreeing upon a common course of business conduct. Among the subjects that should never be discussed are fees; prices; costs, delinquency charges, or fees; conditions, terms, and prices of service; allocating or sharing clients; or refusing to deal with a particular supplier or class of suppliers. Agreements among competitors relating to any of these subjects may be per se violations of the antitrust laws and can lead to criminal and civil penalties.


The views expressed herein have not been approved by the Executive Council or the Board of Governors of the Colorado Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the Colorado Bar Association.



© 2016 Colorado Bar Association


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the Colorado Bar Association.



Published by:

Colorado Bar Association

1900 Grant Street, #900

Denver, CO 80203