Setting up a workspace is something that gets frequently overlooked when starting your own law firm. There’s a lot to do leading up to the launch of your solo law firm. And, during this process, many lawyers tend to get focused on the other aspects of starting a firm and eventually realize that working on their dining table or the couch may not be the best idea long term.
It’s important to think about your workspace early on: You’ll be spending most of your time there so you’ll want to make sure it’s a comfortable space. Depending on your working habits, the needs of the clients you serve and your own personal preferences, that can mean working from home or renting a shared or private office. You’ll also need to understand what your equipment needs are and how you’ll organize the space.
Select your ideal work environment
To do productive work, you need the right setup. Since each lawyer is different, you’ll want to understand your ideal work environment. It’s wise to think through what you need to be productive before investing in new furniture or technology.
Do you prefer working in relative silence or with ambient noise in your environment? Do you enjoy working around others or in the comfort of your own home? Do you need dedicated workspaces or prefer switching up your environment every so often?
These questions will help you understand the location (home, office, shared office) and conditions that will allow you to do your best work (noise level, temperature, sunlight, etc.)
Keep in mind that you will handle confidential client information. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of who’s around you if you choose to work in a shared office. Lock your computer every time you step away from your working space and try to sit with your back to a wall so others can’t see confidential client information on your screen.
Set up your workspace
Once you’ve selected your ideal work environment, it’s time to set up your workspace. If you’ve chosen a home office, this may be as simple as getting one or two pieces of office furniture. On the other hand, if you’ve chosen a private office or shared workspace, you’ll have to consider how you’ll transport the items you need.
Each lawyer is different and may require more specific tools and equipment, but you can use the list below as a good starting point.
Whether you use a laptop or a desktop computer, make sure you have a powerful machine so you can work on cases uninterrupted, store electronics documents and files, and take video calls. You’ll also need a strong internet connection.
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Make sure you have a reliable printer in your workspace so you can print documents when needed. With remote work becoming increasingly common, we recommend going paperless and printing sparingly for more flexibility. That way, all you need is a simple printer for occasional printing.
In a law office, it’s important to be able to share relevant documents and data digitally. This means you need to be able to scan and upload documents to your firm’s practice management system when needed. Consider getting a portable scanner if you’ve chosen a shared workspace or home office. Portable scanners take up less room and are easier to transport.
There are also many apps that will allow you to scan documents using your phone. For example, Dropbox has a document scanning feature.
If you’re going to be taking client calls or other meetings through a conferencing tool such as Zoom, ensure that you have a good quality headset. If you want to take it a step further, consider a wireless headset or earbuds that can pair with your computer and phone to take calls on the go.
No matter which work environment you’ve chosen, you will need office supplies. Highlighters, sticky notes, staplers, and pens are just a handful of things you’ll need to take notes, jot things down, and put together your documents. Make a list of the office supplies you’ll need, and make sure you’re fully stocked before you launch your law firm.
Build your resource library
Once you’ve settled in and taken care of your client-side needs, it’s time to build your resource library. Starting your own law firm means that you’ll have to put effort into learning the ins and outs of being a business owner, in addition to practicing law and handling client matters.
The best way to improve your business management skills is to read books written by other lawyers who have gone through the same process. While it can be difficult to juggle the client and business sides of a solo law firm, make sure that you still carve out time (even if it’s just 15 minutes a day), to read and further your business knowledge.
There’s a lot that goes into running a successful law firm, but there are also many different kinds of books on business, law, and the business of law designed to help you.
When starting a law firm, you don’t need the latest hardware or the most luxurious furniture. Your solo law firm workspace may not even be complete the first time you set it up. As time goes by, your preferences might change along with the tools and equipment that you need.
Keep an open mind for potential changes, redecorating, or even complete shifts in your environment if you decide that you want to try new things.
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