7 Benefits of Shared Office Space for Law Firms

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Running a law firm is no easy task, particularly in today’s highly competitive market. In order to succeed, there are some crucial missteps that you must avoid. Above all, you need to find ways to bring in clients while keeping your costs low enough to survive for the first 12-18 months until you build up a customer base and establish a referral network. One way to keep expenses down is to start a virtual law practice. But for those who feel the need to have an office, shared office space is often the best alternative when you’re just starting out. Read on to learn about the seven major benefits of a coworking space for lawyers.

1. Lower rent

A shared law firm office space

Rent is often the largest single line item on a law firm’s list of fixed monthly expenses. In major cities like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles where prices are skyrocketing, the monthly rent can be particularly difficult to swallow.

That’s why the most obvious shared office space benefits for new law firms are lower overheads and general costs. Compared to a private office, the monthly rent for a shared office space is likely to be 60% cheaper, if not more.

Over the course of the first year or two, this can amount to substantial cost savings for a new law firm that is just getting off the ground. It also frees up precious capital to be spent on things like online marketing that can help generate business and legal software to maximize operational efficiency and profitability.

2. Shared resources

Running a business is not cheap. There is a ton of overhead, even for a startup or small mom ‘n pop shop. Computers, printers, a phone system, office furniture, decor, wi-fi, parking, software, outsourced services, advertising, etc. are all pretty much standard expenses these days. Totaled up, you’re looking at thousands of dollars of monthly overhead to open up your own law office.

Not only is rent drastically reduced in a shared office space, but there are also additional cost savings from sharing these crucial office resources with your co-working colleagues. You’ll likely have a pre-furnished office with access to printers, scanners, fax machines, etc., as well as WiFi and a phone system.

All of this is generally built into a single monthly package.

3. More professionalism

The legal profession is one that involves great responsibility in the handling and resolution of important matters in our clients’ lives. Trustworthiness and professionalism are a necessity for any law firm to be successful at landing clients and growing a business.

Having a nice-looking office space with high-end finishes is an easy way to demonstrate your professionalism. It gives prospective clients a sense that you are successful at what you do, and therefore someone that they can trust to manage their legal issues.

The problem is, that type of high end experience is almost certainly out of reach for a law firm that’s just starting up, at least in a private office. But in a shared office space, it may very well be attainable. Many shared office spaces come complete with luxury finishes, a nice waiting room, and even a receptionist to greet clients and answer the phones.

For any startup law firm that’s looking to grow, a shared office space for lawyers can provide credibility and a more professional image, both of which are key to selling legal services.

4. Collaboration with peers

A shared office space can make it easier for legal professionals to collaborate

Establishing a strong network is one of the most important steps to starting a law practice. Word of mouth will always be an important driver of law firm growth, so building up a network of attorneys, as well as other professionals, can help generate business.

Working from a shared office space with other attorneys is an excellent way to form some of these relationships early on. You can establish mutual referral arrangements, share resources and information, and learn valuable lessons about things like marketing and running a business from other attorneys who are in a similar position.

This type of collaboration is nearly impossible if you’re isolated in your own office somewhere, and the early days of running a business can get lonely at times. By collaborating with peers in a shared office, you’ll stay more motivated and help each other navigate the difficult journey of starting up a new law firm.

5. Better work environment

The environment you choose to work from can have an instrumental impact on your success in any line of business. Just like a high-end restaurant needs to be in a good location and have a pleasant ambiance to provide the best dining experience to customers, a law firm can sometimes be run more effectively from a nice office building with all the amenities.

Working from a local coffee shop can be noisy and distracting while working from home often leads to less productivity. These types of work environments may be optimal from a cost standpoint, but it just doesn’t feel the same to you or your clients.

Having a real office to do your work from can help you stay focused and be more productive, as well as just get you into the right mindset as a business owner. This mental shift alone can make all the difference in the world when it comes to growing your law firm into a sustainable business with employees and customers, rather than remaining a sole practitioner who is just making ends meet.

6. Access to shared workplace events

From after-hours drinks to professional talks, coworking spaces host a wide variety of events that can provide you with a platform from which to network. Look out for events that have industry-specific speakers, where you’re more likely to meet other attorneys.
In most cases, events are open to the general public, which can be an opportunity to meet new people outside of your established circles, and potentially find new associates and partners. Here are some steps you can take to make networking at shared workplace events easier:
Set goals. The more achievable, the better. While finding new clients is no-doubt the end goal, approach networking events with simpler objectives such as building new relationships.
Arrive early.  Give yourself the best chance at having meaningful conversations by showing up before the crowds do.
Make sure to listen. Events attract all kinds of people with their own goals, so make sure you’re ready to engage with others in the same way you’d like to be engaged with.
Establish ongoing connections.  Whether it’s a business card or an exchange of LinkedIn details, asking for contact information and keeping the relationship alive is an important part of networking.
Even where the people you’re going to events with aren’t in your field of work, there’s merit in reaching out to other professionals, such as:
  • Building confidence. 
  • Improving communication. 
  • For general business and freelancing tips.

7. Tax deductions

Tax deductions to consider for legal professionals wanting a shared office space
The benefits of a coworking space for lawyers extends past collaboration and networking and into the realm of tax deductions. Working from a shared office often entitles you to claim more deductions come tax time – even down to the membership fee or rent itself.
It’s not only the membership fees that are tax deductible, other workspace-related expenses can be claimed under tax, such as:
  • Printing costs. 
  • Networking/conference costs. 
  • Meeting or conference room hire. 
  • Business mailboxes. 
On the other hand, the IRS is clear that commuting costs and parking can’t be deducted, but there are exceptions to this rule. The expenses that you can claim while working in a shared office will depend on whether you use the office regularly or only occasionally, and whether you’re a solo practitioner or a limited company, so it’s best to consult an accountant or tax professional when tax season arrives.

Summary

Starting a law firm, particularly in today’s competitive market, is no easy feat. In order to maximize your chances of success, you need to take into account not only your revenues and expenses, but also the environment from which you work.

While it can be tempting to open up your own private office, or just work from home if you can’t afford it, there are a number of important benefits that should make considering a shared office space worth your while. Not only is the rent and overhead more manageable, but you’ll also have substantially more credibility with clients and benefit from a collaborative work environment where you can grow alongside your peers.

For these reasons, a shared office space for new law firms is something we would highly recommend to any solo lawyer just getting off the ground.

Categorized in: Business

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