Everything a Lawyer Needs to Do When Setting Up Their Home Office

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Illustration of a lawyer home office

A lawyer home office was once considered a luxury, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it a requirement for many lawyers and law firms. And despite  pandemic restrictions being eased, firms have discovered that a physical office isn’t always necessary to serve clients. In fact, there are many advantages to a home law office, such as:

  • Less time spent commuting, leaving more opportunity for family time, exercise, relaxation, etc.
  • Better ability to focus (unless your family is more distracting than your co-workers).
  • Flexibility to break up the workday and, as a result, be more productive.

However, the benefits of working from home are overshadowed if you’re not equipped. To work from home successfully, some lawyer office essentials must be in place, such as having an ergonomic setup, the proper supplies, and the right mindset. Read on to learn the eight lawyer office essentials that you need to work from home.

Is a home office right for your legal practice?

There are many perks to having a home office, but many new considerations as well. Below are some questions to ponder when debating whether your firm should be work-from-home, work in-office, or a hybrid of both:

  • Am I able to communicate with my clients as effectively at home as in the office?
  • Am I able to communicate with my team as effectively at home as in the office?
  • What tools do I need to be successful working from home?
  • What do I do if I need to meet clients or my team in person?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t know how to answer this question, consult this guide for everything you need to know about working remotely as a lawyer.

8 Lawyer office essentials for home-based law firms

Image of a home office

1. A dedicated space

Having a dedicated workspace makes it easier to focus, mentally gets you into a work mode, minimizes distractions, and helps create a work-life balance. Upon entering the space,  you associate it with work, rather than being at home, which aids in boosting productivity and efficiency. It also sends a signal to others, and your own brain, that you are at the office, which can help reduce distractions.

Having a dedicated room for a home office is ideal, but not necessary if you don’t have the space. Look for a spot where you have privacy to make calls with clients and coworkers without being interrupted by the people or things in and around your home.

A location with natural light is encouraged, as it can directly impact your mood and work. A study by Cornell University found that those who worked in a space exposed to natural light experienced an 84% decrease in the frequency of eye strain, blurred sight, and headaches. Furthermore, natural light can increase productivity and make your home law office seem larger. If you’re using a desk, placing a rug underneath helps to visually create a dedicated zone for your office and distinguishes it from the rest of your home.

2. An ergonomic chair

A comfortable and ergonomic chair is an essential part of any home law office. Your law office likely had ergonomic chairs, but your at-home office chair might be a kitchen chair or one that you quickly picked up at the start of the pandemic. A chair with adjustable height, appropriate seat depth, and lumbar support encourages proper posture and avoids harmful sitting positions that can lead to shoulder, hip, and spine issues. Be sure to look for these items when researching office chairs. And remember, a chair is not only meant for a comfortable working experience but also one that keeps your health in check.

Here are some of our favorite chairs to kick off your search:

3. A good set of headphones and a microphone

This lawyer office essential is one that is often overlooked, as it may not have been a part of your routine in a physical office. However, working from home requires different equipment. A high-quality pair of headphones is a great way to cut out distractions and stay focused on your work—making you more productive and efficient. If your home is particularly noisy, consider investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

Along the same lines, while your computer likely has a built-in microphone, a separate, high-quality mic is a great way to present yourself in a professional manner as you engage with clients and employees virtually. Additionally, a good microphone will boost speech clarity for your listener. This is a bonus when explaining complex topics to clients or participating in group discussions. 

4. A reliable scanner and shredder

In an effort to go paperless, and save space, consider purchasing a reliable scanner to quickly transform hard copies to digital. To save even more space in your office, consider using a scanner app on your phone to send and share documents with clients and team members. 

A shredder, meanwhile, is critical for the security of confidential client information. Your home recycling bin is not the proper way to dispose of sensitive information; be sure that documents are properly destroyed before discarding them. 

5. An ergonomic mouse and keyboard

We’ve already discussed how an ergonomic chair is a law office essential. But it doesn’t stop there—an ergonomic mouse and keyboard are just as important for your posture and health. Poor keyboard and mouse use are leading causes of carpal tunnel syndrome, a neuropathic condition where nerves in the hand or wrist become compressed, causing numbness or pain. The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that between 3 to 6 percent of American adults suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. 

An ergonomic mouse and keyboard can decrease muscle strain and discomfort. A wireless mouse and keyword also help free up desk space and make your office look clutter-free. 

When working from home, prioritizing mental health is just as important as physical health. Learn more about lawyer wellness and mental health.  

A lawyer home office setup

6. A laptop stand and monitor

Having a monitor gives you two screens rather than one and can increase productivity. This is especially useful when working on cases requiring multiple tabs and documents to be open at once. Additionally, since monitor screens are typically larger than laptop screens, a monitor can reduce eye strain.

Regardless of whether you use a monitor or not, be sure to put your main screen at eye level. That’s where the stand comes in. It will raise your laptop or monitor, encouraging proper posture and preventing your head from tilting down all day.

7. A high-quality webcam

Having a high-quality webcam is a lawyer essential, especially since many calls from your home office will be video calls. You want to present yourself and represent your firm professionally, no matter how you’re communicating. Using a webcam rather than your laptop’s default camera is a great way to do this. A minor detail shows you’ve gone the extra mile in providing the best online experience.

8. Cloud-based legal software

The more cloud-based software you are using, the easier it will be to share info with your team members from your respective home offices. Both Clio Grow and Clio Manage can act as your firm’s shared brain full of institutional knowledge. As a result, you and your team will have all the details and documents you need to be productive from a home office, reachable in just a few clicks. You’ll be able to service your clients as well as or better than you did in the office. This investment is a lawyer office essential to the success of your home office.

Home offices for law firm team members

While you may appreciate being able to dock your laptop at either home or the office, your regular office or in your home office if you have one, your team may not have the same level of comfort.

Other team members may not have the same ability to dedicate space within their home to a home office. Or, they may not have the same resources at home as they do at your law firm, such as faster internet speeds and office supplies such as toner, paper, etc.

Where possible, consider supplementing these resources for your team. Paying for basic work-from-home equipment will undoubtedly make your team more productive at home, and still costs less than paying rent for office space. Consider the return on your investment and invest in those resources that will pay off in productivity.

Conclusion

Your time in your law firm home office may end when the pandemic ends. But if a home legal practice is your new normal for either the near- or long-term, spending some time setting up your home office will pay dividends. Focusing on a few lawyer office essentials such as location, the tools you need, and how you’ll communicate with your team will enable you to feel comfortable and be more productive and successful.

Categorized in: Business

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