Shared Office Space: What Is Its Appeal?

By Stephen Furnari - November 6, 2014
Shared Office Space: What Is Its Appeal?

Solo attorneys and small law firms choose shared office space for 4 main reasons.

What is shared office space?

shared office spaceA shared office shares many basic similarities to a typical office rental. However, a shared office is fully equipped and is typically move-in ready meaning the client does need to do much to make the office inhabitable. It is an option that allows the attorney an area other than their home to do work.

Shared office spaces, and shared law office space in particular, are attractive options for solo attorneys and small law firms because they provide amenities and resources that may be prohibitively expensive for a small firm attorney to financially provide themselves. These amenities can include:

  • A fully staffed, professional reception area;
  • Access to multiple, well-appointed conference rooms;
  • Law firm grade telecommunications equipment;
  • High-speed, secure Internet and wireless Internet; and
  • Professional grade copy equipment.

What makes shared office space so attractive to small firms and solo attorneys?

There are four major reasoning’s solo attorneys and small law firms choose shared office space.

1.  Fiscally conscious law practitioners can save money with shared office space rather than direct to landlord leases.

Shared office spaces are typically less expensive than a standard commercial lease. Direct-to-landlord arrangements frequently require a longer period of investment as opposed to a shared office sublease. While a shared office provider may require a one-year commitment, a direct-to-landlord commercial lease can be as long as five years with much more of an upfront cost.

Amenities that come with a shared office space are also important to the attorney as well when it comes to financial expenses. For instance, a solo attorney may not be able to swing the costs associated with having a support staff. When divided among multiple tenants, the cost of a support staff provided by the a shared office is much more reasonable. This also works itself into other expenses, such as durable office equipment, telephone service, and even internet.

In a shared office environment, certain amenities come as part of the package  which save the attorney time and money trying to find these supplies and resources on their own.

2.  Working around other tenants with similar interests fuels the sense of urgency.

The practice of law is becoming extremely specialized and lawyers are focusing on increasingly niched practice areas. Lawyers in certain practice disciplines often need the advice of other attorneys in complementary practice disciplines to fully and competently service client matters.

A shared office space provides a network of information that allows an attorney to better serve his or her clients.

For example, in a B-to-B practices such as M&A, an attorney may have practice issues during the scope of client representation involving other practice disciplines, for instance, complex taxation, intellectual property or employment law issues.

The shared office space makes it easier for the M&A attorney to have colleagues view meetings and provide a level of competency in client representation that may not be available to the attorney without the network of a shared office space.

The same can be said for a business to consumer practice as well. For example immigration attorneys often have ancillary issues that involve family law, matrimonial law and criminal defense.

3.  And collaboration also produces lucrative client referrals.

Shared office spaces have an edge that typical commercial leases do not provide: a collaborative work environment. This type of environment is consistent with referrals, which for attorney that is solo or just starting out, is often the bread and butter for his or her practice.

For many small firm attorneys, this can add a significant amount of additional profit to their firm.

Of course, it would be important to find the right mix of attorneys. If a shared office space only has a limited number of offices, an attorney would want to make sure the some of the other attorneys practice in complementary areas of the law that will have the most potential for referral exchange.

For example, while a personal injury attorney can certainly co-exist with a bunch of tax or patent lawyers, the better fit from a business development perspective would be a suite with immigration, workers’ comp and matrimonial attorneys.

Being selective about practice niches is less of a concern in larger shared law office suite with many attorneys from diverse practice areas. For example, in a shared office space like Law Firm Suites, where over 125 attorneys in different practice areas share space, there will always be an opportunity to build a referral connection.

4.  The element of loneliness can hamper productivity. Shared office space works to negate that.      

Shared office space is collegial in nature. When functioning at its best, it creates a social environment where like-minded individuals can create long-lasting personal and professional relationships. It provides the best of what a law firm has to offer, in terms of collegiality, without the aggravation that can come with sharing economics with partners.

About Stephen Furnari

Stephen Furnari is a self-employed corporate attorney and the founder of Law Firm Suites, the operator of coworking spaces for law firms. Through Law Firm Suites, Furnari has helped hundreds of attorneys launch and grow successful law practices. He is the author of several eBooks, including “7 Deadly Mistakes that Prevent Law Practice Success” and “An Insider’s Guide to Renting the Perfect Law Office”. Stephen has been featured in the ABA Journal, Entrepreneur, New York Daily News and Crain’s New York. Connect with Stephen on Twitter (@stephenfurnari).

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