Solo Practitioners: Could Your Office Space Be Doing More for You?

by Alexa Drago on January 19, 2021

By Jay Kamlet and Jordan Deifik

If you’re like most other small law firms, 2020 has forced you to reevaluate the efficacy of your workspace. Thousands of lawyers now work exclusively from home out of necessity, prompting a question that’s never been more relevant: do legal professionals really need to work in an office?

The quick answer is yes, especially for lawyers.

Working from home means that the general public, opposing counsel, and clients can access your home address rather than an office address. In contentious practice areas, this isn’t ideal. Working from home also means that this same audience sees your family’s private home environment. This, again, isn’t ideal and for many attorneys–the thought of blending home and work at this level rightly makes them feel uncomfortable.

Running your law office from a coffee shop isn’t a good option either. Consider this malpractice case filed against a lawyer that was meeting with clients in a coffee shop. The client in the malpractice case has a point–they should expect professionalism and privacy when consulting with their attorney. Many clients are becoming savvier when selecting their counsel. Even a cost-conscious law practice that might not need a full-time office will absolutely need a professional setting for occasional client meetings.

The challenges of working from home and working from coffee shops aren’t new information for most solo practitioners. For years, they have been champions of thinking creatively about their office space. Smaller law firms in Colorado thrive in shared environments such as coworking locations, subleased private offices within other law firms, and shared commercial space in renovated mansions.

But now that more lawyers are actually working from home, they are starting to rethink their office space arrangements, even the non-traditional ones, as they consider decreasing overhead. It’s natural to assume that continuing to rent an office space throughout the pandemic is counterintuitive to a firm’s survival.

But it isn’t.

Most lawyers do not realize the untapped potential of being in the right commercial space for their practice now and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consider a Coworking Space for Your Small Law Firm

There’s no denying the freedom and flexibility that comes with working from home, but plenty of folks find it challenging to untangle home life and work as a result. Even though it’s probably still the most realistic alternative to working in an office right now, there’s still plenty to be said for maintaining an office or a shared professional workspace away from your house.

For starters, you get some pretty great opportunities to network with other attorneys in the Denver Metro area. Coworking spaces that cater to attorneys bring like-minded individuals together, and more often than not, quality professional relationships tend to blossom. These ties are crucial to cementing your reputation within your practice area and may even provide you with some lucrative case referral opportunities down the road. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”

Business-focused lawyers who own small law firms understand that they compete with the fine-tuned cross-selling and upselling models of much larger law firms. By co-counseling with other attorneys in complementary practice areas, small law firms can leverage the knowledge of a larger group of lawyers. They can keep more of the client matters that come in. Coworking in the right environment can be a win/win–and then win again–for everyone involved.

Making Your Commercial Real Estate Work for You

COVID-19 has taken the air out of traditional networking and business development for attorneys. The common practice has been for attorneys to gather at events, lunches, and coffee appointments to spread the word about their practice. In 2020, this model of self-promotion changed overnight.

For lawyers that work in solo firms, this meant an unexpected wave of isolation for their law practice. The fellowship and camaraderie that they gained from in-person meetings and events were stripped away. But for lawyers that worked in coworking or shared spaces, this change was easier to navigate. They were able to continue to network through group attendance of on-line CLEs and webinar programming. They likewise continued to align their small law firms with other small law firms to create “dream teams” or full-service legal teams for their clients. This worked especially well with lawyers with business-centered practices. They could combine forces with employment attorneys, corporate bankruptcy attorneys, and tax attorneys to help their clients get through this challenging year. Consumer-facing practices had a similar experience with divorce lawyers working with trusts and estates attorneys and even referring cases and clients to plaintiff-focused practices like workers’ compensation that have been thriving during COVID times.

For the lawyers that work in shared spaces with attorneys that don’t do what they do, 2020 has really been a year of being in the right place at the right time to bring referrals into their practice areas. The most astute lawyers know that they can’t do any of this on their own or working exclusively from their home.

A Final Word

Remote work’s explosion in popularity and necessity does not mean that your firm has to give up its physical office. As we’ve demonstrated, it’s possible to keep your firm’s physical location while getting a little creative about what you use it for. But considering the benefits of working in a shared workspace, it would make more sense to use your firm’s physical location for business development. That way, you can continue to stay afloat throughout the pandemic and even strengthen your law firm’s finances along the way.


About LawBank

Founded by Jay Kamlet and Jordan Deifik in 2012, LawBank is one of the largest collaborative communities in the country for solo practice and small law firm attorneys. With offices in Colorado and Nevada, the LawBank network helps member attorneys expand their law firm’s reach through collaboration and professional development opportunities. Learn more at www.Law-Bank.com


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