3 easy tips on how to use a virtual office to get more clients and make your home-based law practice more professional.
What is a virtual office?
A virtual office rental agreement is a financial arrangement where solo and small firm attorneys pay a low monthly fee (typically starting at $99.00 month) to rent the use of a premium commercial address in an executive office suite and the non-exclusive use of office space and amenities. These may include conference rooms, reception area and access to law firm grade telecommunications and office equipment.
How do home-based attorneys benefit from virtual offices?
You may choose to work from a home office simply because you can, because it’s less expensive, or for other valid lifestyle reasons. After all, making those decisions is one of the perks of being your own boss.
However, as a home-based lawyer, you will encounter clients, colleagues or adversaries who assume that you are less professional (or less successful) because you work from home. This may result in greater difficulty negotiating deals with adversaries, prospective clients not hiring you, or demanding that you lower your rate since you’re not paying the overhead that comes with an office.
3 Ways to Make Your Home-Based Practice Appear More Professional with a Virtual Office:
1. Do the work from home, but use a permanent commercial address for your practice.
First, use a commercial business address. A commercial address is important because it gives the impression of being more professional and more permanent.
Consider sharing a commercial office address with a friend, or you can rent one through a virtual office provider. By renting virtual office space, you give the appearance that you operate from a larger commercial office building, while avoiding the financial overhead associated with a traditional office rental.
In addition to the commercial mailing address, attorneys get access to reception serves, conference room usage on a per diem basis and dedicated mail services.
Lastly, a good office suite operator will never let your guests/clients know that you are anything other than a full-time office renter.
2. Have a permanent business phone number.
Keep a separate landline for your practice, and never use your home phone for business calls.
Clients and adversaries often redial from caller ID.
If you have an office line and call from your home phone, you risk a business call coming to your home and your grade school aged child picking it up, or clients calling you at odd hours of the day assuming that you will answer
This can ruin the professional image you have worked hard to create for your home-based law firm.
3. Never meet with clients in your home.
Professionalism matters most when it comes to meeting clients face-to-face. Do not let your clients come to your home to meet you! EVER!
You must meet the clients in a professional space. Your dining room should never be your conference room.
Instead, you can rent a conference room or an office from a virtual office provider each time you need to use it. Or you can have an arrangement with an executive suite for law firms to include more conference room time. Pricing generally begins at $99 a month for these services in urban areas such as New York City and Boston.
Just make sure that if you’re using a new space, you know how all the technology works and where to find everything you’ll need before the clients arrive. For all they know, this space is the office where you work from every day. Don’t blow the illusion by not knowing where the bathroom is or how to connect to the wifi.