As a solo attorney, you must soak up all the expenses of a practice – including a shared office space. Wouldn’t it be amazing if a Midtown shared office space paid for itself?
A Midtown shared office space can be a really great value. You’ll probably get a commercial office building with a fancy lobby.
More than likely, it will have nicely appointed reception area with a full-time receptionist who can greet your clients professionally and act as an agent to accept hand deliveries or service of process.
Most midtown shared law office spaces offer access to well-appointed conference rooms as well. (Meeting clients is an occupational hazard!)
Further, it’s a good bet that the staff will be accommodating and, sometimes, even friendly.
And you know that you’ll get some nice added benefits like a fancy coffee maker (maybe, even an ESPRESSO maker!) with colored LED lights, foaming milk … the works.
Are attorneys, like yourself, looking for a typical office?
Typical offices are a dime a dozen. Standard amenities are just that… standard.
The only standard thing about working in an midtown shared office space exclusively for lawyers is familiarity. It’s like working in a large law firm, but without the stress of shared economics.
Lawyers work differently.
Attorneys, particularly, solo attorneys, have different work habits than your run-of-the-mill professional. For one, if we make a mistake, our homes may be on the line.
It is important, imperative even, than attorneys work in a collaborative environment. You see, a hip tech firm on the rise may be quite satisfied to stay nestled within their own confines deep within the midtown shared office space, programming the day away with nary a break save for gallons of coffee. For attorneys however, a collaborative work environment is a must.
Why, you ask? Because a collaborative work environment leads to referrals.
Any attorney worth his or her legal pads will tell you that referrals are the lifeblood of any successful law practice. The ability to collaborate with office mates – particularly fellow lawyers – is the best feature of renting a midtown shared office space for a solo attorney or a small law firm. When you work alongside many other solos and small firms who share your dedication to the legal profession every day, it’s easy to exchange referrals or collaborate on projects.
Attorneys should expect their midtown shared office space to be as monetarily productive as a junior associate. And just as your junior associate has billable hours requirements to be profitable, your office space should be held to the same standard. Over the course of a year you should expect to receive at least enough economic value from your office (through referrals and other opportunities) to pay for your rental fees.
But in order for this to happen, the shared office space must have a culture of collegiality. In an executive suite, collegiality starts with the suite’s management. Management must set the tone that it is acceptable, if not encouraged, for officemates interact with each other. If management leads by example, tenants will follow.
It’s an attorney thing – you wouldn’t understand.
Most Midtown shared office space managers just don’t understand the attorney culture. You can’t blame them – they were most likely raised in the space management school of business. They may see an opportunity to co-counsel not as a boost to their own business, but as a hindrance. Thus, their ideal work day: Except for some occasional small talk with the receptionist, the tenants proceed to their office, close the door behind them and spend the rest of their day working in a “closed-door-solitude.”
So what you commonly find in a midtown shared office space is a culture that is identically similar to living in a high-rise, doorman apartment building. You can live in an apartment building for years and never meet any of your neighbors. In fact, most apartment dwellers actively ignore their neighbors and it’s completely acceptable behavior.
There is very little interaction, and accordingly there is very little opportunity for collaboration.
Again – it’s not as if your midtown shared office space staff isn’t doing a good job – they certainly are. Management typically does a great job of getting to know each client. They just do a lousy job of getting clients to know each other.
For an attorney, this “culture of solitude” may represent tens of thousands of dollars in lost opportunity every year.
How much money has your firm already lost?