There are things one must know before acquiring a Midtown shared office space to attain the stability you need.
Any way you cut it, moving your law office means lost billable time.
For the practitioner of law, it is common to try and not move more than once every five years, which can be very tricky.
A lot can change in the span of five years when it comes to your law practice. Ideally, you would want your practice to grow because that means you are doing something right. However, this may constitute the need for a bigger space and the need to find an office space with flexibility and stability can make things difficult.
Doing so requires having a solid understanding of these four things.
1. Which working environment will make you most productive?
Your actual place of work can have a direct impact on work productivity. Maybe you enjoy a busy office? Maybe you want a more quiet tone that allows you to not be bothered?
Wherever you are, your office needs to feel like a second home that you don’t feel disdain towards.
Take into account your current office space and your last office. What did you like about each one? What did you hate the most about it?
Was the office vibrant and lively or quiet and laid-back? These are important things to consider because once you sign on the dotted line for a new space, it can be very difficult to get out of if things are not working out.
Selecting an office space can be difficult because there are many things to take into account. Everyone should have a checklist listed in the order of priority:
1. Building location. Look for something that is not only convenient to you, but also your clients.
2. Your physical workspace. You can sublease office space in the nicest NYC building, but if your workspace is a hovel, then you will not be happy or productive.
3. The conference rooms. Next to your office, you’ll probably spend the most time in conference rooms. Make sure they will meet your typical needs, and more importantly, will be available when you need them.
4. The office suite, including reception. If you had to choose between a workspace that makes you happy or a reception area with designer chairs and modern art, go with the former. An office suite that is “nice enough” will not prevent you from retaining clients, but will also not make the client think that your rates are inflated to pay for the designer furnishings.
5. The building lobby. Most buildings where Midtown shared office space is located have decent lobbies. The market simply demands it. Frankly, the threshold for building lobbies is that there should be nothing offensive about it (odors, disrepair, etc.). That’s a low bar.
6. The building exterior. Frankly, for attorneys the exterior design of the building is irrelevant. The only people who look up in Midtown, New York City are tourists and architects. No client will refuse to retain your firm because of what the exterior of your office building looks like.
2. What’s your real budget?
Many attorneys underestimate what they can actually afford in terms of space. This may be linked to hesitance or self-doubt; it may even be linked to security and peace of mind.
In real estate, if you find something you like, jump on it. It will likely not be there in the future. Even if you see a space you like that stretches your budget, acquiring it in a responsible manner can benefit you in the long run as opposed to sticking with a safe option that you may end up hating as your practice grows.
Time and time again we’ve seen that attorneys who take the nicer space play a “bigger game”. As compared to their colleagues who play it safe, the attorneys who stretch not only find a way to pay for the extra expense, but they grow their practices much more rapidly.
Figuring out a budget isn’t easy, but if you set a range that allows you to stretch it, it allows you more options to choose from in terms of office space.
3. What services must your practice have?
As you decide on budget, you also have to think about the services your firm needs to operate efficiently. This includes phone, internet, office equipment, and so forth. Even things as simple as coffee are something to contemplate.
These services should be grouped into three categories:
1. What you absolutely require.
2. What would be nice to have.
3. What you can definitely live without.
When looking at different office options, in order to compare “apples to apples” you need to really understand what is included as part of the deal. If the services your firm absolutely requires are not included (or are inadequate), then you will have to pay for these things on your own. One or two of these items can significantly increase the cost of your law office rental.
For example, take your typical Midtown shared office space. In many executive suites, Internet is included as part of your rental fees. Executive suites, being in the business of renting space, tend to have high-end internet service.
Perks such as internet service are often included in a written agreement for sublet office space. The only downside is that it will only be as good as the shared space is willing to purchase.
If your firm uses more innovative ways to stay organized, a slow internet service may likely only cause a headache instead of being of use to you. Professional grade internet can have very high costs and may become an added expense if your shared office provider’s services are inadequate.
4. What kind of people do you want around you?
Law is a profession that is most successfully practiced in collaboration with other lawyers. The ability to brainstorm and get advice about legal issues or practice strategies is essential to everyday practice.
Your firm may be big enough to have this collaborative environment on its own. Maybe you just don’t care to be around other lawyers. For the rest of us, it makes the most sense to find Midtown shared office space.
Shared office spaces that don’t focus on a particular profession can often be very mixed.
In a typical Manhattan law office sublet, you may find lawyers who are open to collaboration. These are typically office situations where there are a number of small law firm subtenants. What’s more common though is sublessors who simply want you to pay timely and leave their attorneys alone so they can bill.
Executive suites can be a more collaborative environment, but unless you rent from an executive suite for law firms, you may find an odd mix of clientele ranging from traders to tailors. Different professionals have different work habits that don’t always lend well to sharing space attorneys, who require quiet and, above all, privacy.
We secret shop our competitors often and in the Insider’s Guide to Renting the Perfect Law Office, we’ve shared some of the astonishing things we’ve witnessed.