Running a law firm is no easy task, particular 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 5 major benefits of shared office space for new law firms.
1. Lower Rent
Rent is often the largest single line item on a law firm’s list of fixed monthly expenses. In major cities like San Fransisco, New York, and Los Angeles where prices are skyrocketing, the monthly rent can be particularly difficult to swallow.
That’s why the most obvious benefit of shared office space for new law firms is lower overhead. 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. Totalled 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 wi-fi 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 can provide credibility and a more professional image, both of which are key to selling legal services.
4. Collaboration With Peers
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.
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.
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