What Kind of Office Should Small Law Firms Rent?
You’ve decided that you’re ready to start your small law firm, or your current one is changing, and you need to re-evaluate your office set-up. This is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
- Should you set up a home office or rent a private office?
- Perhaps a co-working space is appealing?
- Maybe an executive suite would be best?
The great thing is, with today’s tech, you can set up anywhere. As you consider your options, there are some dos and don’ts that you should keep in mind and business and social concerns that you will need to keep in mind.
Ultimately, it will be a balancing act, keeping the overhead matched with the scale of your practice while also ensuring that you have a workplace that allows you to be productive, meet with clients, and network with other professionals.
Location Matters to Google & Your Clients
First of all, no matter where you decide to set up your office, you’ll need a business address. For professional reasons and safety, you should never use your home address. On the other hand, a post office box isn’t ideal either because it indicates that you don’t have the stability of an established office, as this could harm your credibility with new clients. Additionally, if you have a P.O. Box, you won’t have anyone to sign for your packages.
A private mailbox might be a good option because it gives you a street address and a place that can accept your packages. Some co-working spaces also have mail/package handling services. An executive suite offers a shared receptionist who can accept mail and packages. The suite will be your business address, but you want to ensure your practice has a dedicated address, including a suite number or office number. This is where Google comes in.
If you work “virtually” or from a home office, you won’t have a spot in Google’s search. If you want to appear in the local map results or on the right side of the results page when someone searches for legal help in your area, you’ll need a unique, physical, and public address.
Again, a P.O. Box doesn’t count as a physical address and doesn’t appear in local Google search results. A private mailbox may or may not show up, but it does better than P.O Boxes. Google does not do well with co-working spaces because so many businesses within one address with no unique identifiers, such as a suite number. Executive suites fit well into Google searches because each tenant has a unique suite number and has few issues with business listings. Finally, private offices have no problems with showing up in Google searches.
Now that you have an idea of how location works with Google searches let’s explore the different kinds of offices and which one is best for your small law firm.
5 Office Space Options for Your Small Law Firm
Below, we will look at 5 office space options for your small law firm.
If you are just getting started with your small law firm and your budget is tight, or if you’re getting close to retirement and want to cut back on hours and overhead, a home office is a great option.
To be successful in a home office, you need a dedicated workspace and establish boundaries, such as specific working hours, and do not allow yourself to be disturbed outside of those hours. Physical barriers may be a good idea for people who don’t have a good grasp of time.
The good news is that there are many online solutions available to help you work, including video conferencing tools, content sharing, scheduling, and messaging. Some video conferencing tools offer virtual backgrounds to look like you’re wherever you want to be.
However, while it sounds great, there are a few downsides to working from a home office. First of all, you may feel isolated, especially if you don’t have a lot of face-to-face contact with clients. Also, while it can be good to have your family around, you’re more likely to be interrupted. Set up regular breaks/outings- go out for lunch or just a walk around the block- to help with your physical and mental health.
Working from home is desirable for a small law firm with a limited budget. However, if you have an established practice, a home office might be too distracting and won’t provide the structure and amenities you’re used to.
Shared Space/Coffee Shop
If you know working from home will not be a good option due to the distractions and the lack of social content, the second option for your small law firm is a shared space such as a coffee shop or library. You may work well with background noise, but it can be tricky to meet with clients or participate in a video conference. A mixture of working from home and working from a shared space may be a good option for you.
If you plan to work from a shared space, ensure that you maintain client confidentiality with a privacy filter on your laptop screen, and ensure that you are especially diligent about protecting physical documents.
The third option for your small law firm is a co-working space. This is a step up from the local library or coffee shop. You’ll find dedicated or floating desks, private offices, and even meeting/conference rooms in a co-working space. The main benefit of a co-working space is that it puts you into a community where you can form social and professional relationships. Most of the time, co-working spaces have flexible, short-term commitments, which means you can scale up or down as needed.
Typically, co-working spaces are full of people in the start-up phase of their business, working remotely for an employer or being self-employed. Each one has a different vibe, so you must take the time to tour several and then try out the ones you like for several days. Since you are working with people from various businesses, it gives you social benefits minus office politics.
The lack of privacy, storage, and meeting space are the primary disadvantages- especially if they use the concept of “hot desks,” which is assigning desks to workers as they need one. Of course, many co-working spaces offer a variety of services and amenities, including private offices, and access to meeting rooms.
This option may appeal to a small law firm with limited resources and those who do most of their work online. A traditional office space might be best for an established attorney and those who meet with colleagues and clients.
If you prefer a more professional environment for your small office space, you may want to consider an executive suite. There are national companies and local operators that lease furnished office spaces yearly, monthly, weekly, or even daily. This option is a bit more expensive than co-working spaces, and the rent typically includes utilities, internet, mail centers, break areas, restrooms, lounge areas, and conference rooms. In most cases, each tenant has a mailing address.
An executive suite offers a variety of benefits, including a receptionist or other staff, and social and networking opportunities built-in, depending on the other tenants. Also, many of these offer flexible solutions, including virtual offices and on-demand conference space. This helps you avoid being locked into a situation that doesn’t scale with your business.
Dedicated Private Space
Your small law firm’s fifth and final option is a dedicated private space if you prefer a private and professional atmosphere. This is one of the most common law office set-ups alongside executive suites. The treat thing about this one is since it’s private, you don’t have to worry about confidentiality and storage issues, and having your own private space can be a great way to influence your productivity.
The disadvantage of a private space for your small law firm is that you have to cover the cost of everything: utilities, administrative, phone, break rooms security systems, cleaning, security systems, and so much more. You should consider these things if you are thinking about opening a small business for your law firm.
How Will I Decide?
As you can see, there are lots of options, and you can change your small law firm location. Of course, changing offices is challenging, so plan so that your clients and other important contacts will be able to find you when you move.
If you are setting up your small law firm location in New York City, consider Bevmax Office Centers. We have four convenient locations across the city: Upper West Side, Tribeca, and the Plaza District. We offer an impressive reception area, professional mail handling/delivery, a digital telephone system with voicemail, fully-furnished private offices, etc. We would love for you to schedule a tour today to show you what we have to offer and how we can benefit your small law firm. We take care of everything so you can focus on your business.