The barrier to entry for starting your own practice is low. You can sit down at the kitchen table, open your laptop, and start working on client matters. See: Must-have Tools for Running a Virtual Law Firm.
But what happens when the kids come home from school at 3pm and your significant other straggles in a couple of hours later wanting to discuss his or her day? Or, your dog sees her shadow and starts barking nonstop during a call with a client. Or, your corporate client wants a meeting and the Starbucks down the road just won’t do. Or…
It’s time to consider getting an office. Not the old fashioned and very expensive office on the 35th floor of an award winning building in a tony neighborhood, but a coworking space.
First, check with your local bar association, many of whom are now offering office space and meeting rooms for solos. You can also look into Regus and WeWork, but dig deeper and you may find a space just for lawyers.
In Advantages of Having a Law Office in a Coworking Space, we looked at cost savings, networking and community, and other perks. But, I wanted to look at a couple of additional benefits a space built just for lawyers offers.
Build a referral network
Earlier today I visited Law Firm Suites in New York City for a presentation. Before the meeting even began, two lawyers sitting on either side of me had already exchanged numbers for possible referrals.
The day before I was working in the magnificent library of the New York City Bar Association and between legal research projects, a few lawyers who use the facilities regularly talked about referral opportunities over the past few months. Check out the NYC Bar Virtual Law Office Program.
Solos can find similar opportunities in larger law firms who rent unused office space.
If you’re a solo starting out you may need some contract work while you build a book of business. You can use a service like Now Counsel Network, or, if you’re in a lawyer-only coworking space, you can build relationships to get and give freelance assignments.
I’ve worked remotely for many years and as anyone who’s done so will tell you, the biggest drawback is the lack of access to community on a daily basis. The relationship building with your team. The mentoring and the being mentored. The opportunity to learn – serendipitously and purposefully. The office socials, the celebration of a victory, the comfort of sharing a loss. The meaningful relationships that emerge outside of the office.
Working from home won’t fix these shortcomings. A shared space with like-minded individuals who understand the industry and share the delights and problems related to the profession, helps.
It’s not all-or-nothing
If you’re comfortable working from home and only need a day or two at the office, a virtual package may fit the bill. A typical, super affordable virtual office rental includes a professional address, mail drop, a few hours of conference room access per month and at least one day a week workspace at the office. This option is a good entry point for work-at-home solos.
I’ve used a few New York City spaces as examples but do some research and check out options in your city. You’ll be glad you did.