For solo attorneys and small law firms, shared law office space is the most cost-effective option.
In lieu of getting their own leased office space directly from a commercial landlord, solo attorneys and small law firms are opting to share office space with other attorneys. This situation is most common in areas such as New York, Boston or DC, where rent can be extremely expensive.
Generally, lawyers find shared law office space in one of three ways:
A Lawyer “Co-op”.
Occasionally, solo or small firm lawyers will lease a commercial office space from the building’s landlord in their own name or through a company that they form for this purpose.
Sublet Office Space.
Commercially leased spaces owned by bigger law firms often sublet extra offices to solo lawyers and small law firms in efforts to offset their expenses. These spaces can be seen advertised on online lists, like New York based Lookingforspace.com, in local legal publications, like the New York Law Journal, or with a local bar association.
Executive Office Suites.
Essentially, an executive officer suite is a professionally run lawyer Co-Op. Law Firm Suites is considered an executive office suite exclusively for attorneys. In most executive suites the clientele is not limited to attorneys. But by industry standards, the single biggest representative profession is attorneys, often forming as much as one-third of all clients in the center.
Why do lawyers choose shared law office space?
There is significant economic value in sharing office space with other attorneys for the solo or small firm attorney. All law firms need certain equipment or personnel to run smoothly. Such items can include a high speed copy/scanner, phone system or even a receptionist. However, much of that equipment or personnel can be leveraged across many attorneys as opposed to one firm. A shared law office solution creates economies of scale and greater efficiencies than any one firm could create on its own.
What kind of facilities and services can you expect in a shared law office space?
Shared law office space comes in many variations, sizes and term length commitments. In large urban city centers, such as New York City, there is typically a suitable option for every potential shared law office client and budget.
The options can range from something utilitarian – think four walls and a door with nothing else – to an opulent, professionally operated facility that provides unexpected amenities, such as daily continental breakfast, and everything in between.
Sublets and lawyer co-ops can be more on the utilitarian side (and thus cost less), while executive office suites tend to offer professional grade amenities, such as a full-time staffed receptionist to greet prospective clients, dedicated call answering services, law firm grade telecommunication services and shared conference room access.
What type of experience can lawyers expect in shared law office space?
At its best, a shared law office space will have a community that works similar to that of a being in a larger law firm without having to tie your finances to anyone else. Colleagues often come to each other for;
- practice advice,
- to exchange referrals,
- and work on projects together.
A good office share community can yield substantial value to a solo attorney or small firm lawyer, often more than paying for the cost of the rental.
Yet this type of collegiality may not be found in all law office shares. Sometimes, the suite has a “stick to yourself” type of vibe, which you may be looking for.
Understanding the culture in a shared law office space (and finding one that fits your needs best) would be something that every lawyer would want to know before signing a sublease or office license.