Three reasons that answer the question: Why do attorneys choose coworking?
What is coworking?
Coworking – The Verb
Coworking, the verb, is a style of work where professionals, who are not necessarily employed by the same organization, share a physical work environment. Any shared law office space is technically coworking. For attorneys, the benefits that come with coworking are typically a steady stream of referrals and practice advice from experienced colleagues when it is required.
Coworking – The Noun
Coworking, the noun, is a descriptor of the types of places where coworking happens. Coworking spaces are generally large, airy rooms with a more casual feel than a traditional office. Think ‘Last Supper’ style tables and chairs, clever decor, white board walls, lots of coffee and sometimes beer.
Is coworking – the verb – a good fit for lawyers?
When executed properly, coworking – the verb – works particularly well for attorneys. Law is a profession that is most successfully practiced in collaboration with other attorneys. In that way, lawyers have been coworking for years, just under a different name.
Collaboration is a hallmark of coworking. As such, every conversation with a colleague testing a legal theory for an upcoming case is technically coworking. Every co-counsel opportunity is technically coworking. Every time you ask a peer about an esoteric interpretation of the CPLR is technically coworking.
Is coworking – the noun – a good fit for lawyers?
Multi-professional coworking centers may be a viable workplace for attorneys, particularly those who primarily work from home but want an inexpensive, professional workplace to use from time to time.
The most important choice an attorney can make is which coworking center to locate their practice. Each multi-professional coworking center is designed for a different business culture. For example, one coworking center may attract Gen Y Internet start-up entrepreneurs while others may be designed for service professionals, such as accountants.
3 Reasons why lawyers choose coworking.
1. It is much cheaper than a typical office rental.
Coworking centers offer an affordable option for solo attorneys looking for a premium commercial address and access to a well-appointed work space in an urban city center they otherwise might not be able to afford.
Coworking centers typically charge between $300 and $800 dollars a month for access to a non-exclusive space in the coworking center (read: First-Come-First-Served).
Coworking can be a perfect option for newly solo attorneys who are looking for all the benefits associated with a shared law office space such as collaboration, referral sharing, community, and co-counsel opportunities, without the monthly carrying costs associated with a full-time physical office.
2. It offers collaborative opportunities in a social environment.
In our experience, the lawyers that receive the most benefit from a shared office space are the ones who most frequently use the space. Coworking allows attorneys to use a dedicated space on a first-come-first-served basis with like-minded colleagues.
Lawyers in certain practice disciplines often need the advice of other attorneys in complementary practice disciplines to fully and competently service client matters.
For example, in a B-to-C practice such as immigration, attorneys often have practice questions in family law, criminal defense and employment.
In a lawyers only coworking center, attorneys have access to colleagues for quick answers to practice questions, or otherwise have them sit-in on meetings or co-counsel on a case. In a shared office space with a robust community, by co-counseling with colleagues, solo attorneys in niche practice areas can offer clients a more “full service” style of representation should the need arise.
3. There is an opportunity to increase your income through referral sharing.
Collaborative work environments, like those found in coworking centers, often result in client referrals.
Coworking centers are designed to accelerate networking and collaboration. The best example of this is the absence of physical walls. An open aired space promotes easy access to conversation among colleagues, which can create long-lasting professional relations. These professional relationships ultimately manifest themselves in referral sharing, which can offset the cost of your coworking facilities monthly fee.
This being said, referral sharing is a direct function of the types of members within the coworking community. Multi-professional coworking facilities generally skew to tech heavy clientele. Traditionally, these types of professionals are not the best referral source for attorneys. On paper, it may seem like shooting fish in a barrel, but in reality, these types of professionals are generally not in a position to refer meaningful business to solo attorneys and small law firms.
Solo attorneys and small law firms may be better served by seeking out a coworking facility exclusive to lawyers.