Choosing Office Space

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There are many options to consider when selecting your first office space. Should you work from home, share office space with another attorney, rent, buy, or establish a truly virtual office? Each of these options has various pros and cons you should consider in selecting the right solution for you.

Location

Do you need to be near a courthouse or jail? Do you need to be where your clients are? Will clients typically come into your office? If not, then does location really matter? Based on your practice area, will you (or your clients) feel better if there is some level of security in your office/building?

Affordability

What can you afford? It is likely better to start out with what you can afford rather than the place you think your clients/colleagues/family should see.

Virtual Law Office

Are there parts of your practice that can be made simpler through technology?

The following should be carefully considered in determining which arrangement is right for you:

Renting an Office

PROS

  • You have a location other than your home or Starbucks to meet clients
  • Easier to hire staff /associates
  • May lend a certain level of credibility to your practice
  • More affordable initially than buying
  • Allows you to expand/contract as your practice does

CONS

  • Rental expense increases your monthly overhead
  • More restricted in what you can do with your office space
  • Term must be the right length for the current phase of your practice

Sharing Office Space

PROS

  • Many similar to renting
  • Have other attorneys around you to bounce ideas off of / receive referrals from
  • Likely more cost effective than renting
  • May provide greater access to professional facilities (e.g. conference rooms, receptionist, etc…)

CONS

  • Many similar to renting
  • Must take into account additional ethical rules that arise when sharing office space
  • May not enjoy having others around who can disrupt you
  • If your practice areas are similar, there may be conflicts that arise between clients or attorneys

Buying Office Space

PROS

  • The property becomes an asset for your business
  • Can rent out portions of the property to cover your mortgage
  • Space can be used as you see fit

CONS

  • Typically a much larger upfront cost
  • You are responsible for all maintenance
  • Property can decrease in value

Home Office

PROS

  • No rental expense and possibly can take a home office deduction
  • No commute
  • May be easier to get work done without coworkers or clients stopping by
  • Startup costs may be lower because you can use existing equipment/furniture

CONS

  • May be difficult to separate work and personal life or “unplug”
  • Clients may have your home address
  • Need to be self-directed to get work done
  • May be more difficult to hire / manage staff

Virtual Law Office

Do I need a physical office? Check out this video to help you decide: