Your Cheap Virtual Office NYC May Not Be So Great

By Stephen Furnari - March 5, 2015
Your Cheap Virtual Office NYC May Not Be So Great

A low-fee virtual office NYC may be appealing at first, but commonly leaves attorneys scrambling for a better option.

virtual office NYCVirtual offices are not rare in the New York city area. In fact, a virtual office NYC set-up can be found very cheaply and options are in abundance.

For the attorney on a budget, a cheap virtual office may be a Godsend and i typically the final element needed to give that push into signing the agreement.

Sometimes, attorneys may not realize that an astoundingly cheap virtual office NYC is not in their best interests and will end up costing more as time goes on with the agreement.

What is a virtual office?

Virtual offices are financial contracts where the prospective client pays a low monthly fee to use the commercial address and typically any services or amenities provided by the shared space. Access to these amenities is often critical to an attorney’s success. Services such as conference room time, internet, and even office equipment make the life an attorney so much easier.

Why do virtual offices appeal to lawyers?

Virtual Office NYCThe reasoning behind using a virtual office NYC is different for every attorney. It total, three main reasons fuel the decision to seek out a virtual office agreement:

Sometimes the cost of a traditional office rental is out of reach for an attorney making the virtual office the only adequate option; this allows the attorney to build his or her career to a place where a traditional office is in financial reach.

Referral systems are typically unmatched compared to not having the virtual space. A legal community is powerful and helps to get an attorney’s name known and build repute.

It is a powerful marketing tool in building the professional image of the attorney’s firm.

The difference between full-service and cheap virtual office packages.

If you are an attorney, a “full-service” arrangement for your virtual office may be the best option because it is the most similar to a traditional office rental. In contrast to traditional office rentals, these deals are much less restrictive and can be flexible with agreement terms. Mail service is commonly included and in addition to that, you have access to temporary offices, conference rooms, and guest reception.

A cheap virtual office arrangement may be far too basic. When it’s cheap, all you are really getting is the address. Commercial addresses are crucial for attorneys to obtain, but attorneys need more than that to be successful. With no guest reception and no conference room time, you will soon find that your cheap virtual office is not worth the hassle.

Conference rooms may not be offered, requiring you to meet clients somewhere other than your office.

Virtual Office NYCThe address you claim may not be the place you meet clients.

If a business has little to no interaction with clients, then a cheap virtual office arrangement with no amenities may be the way to go, however, a lawyer’s job is all about client interaction. Every important event in a case such as a deposition, client consultation, closing, and so forth require a face-to-face interaction to ensure clear and concise communication. These interaction typically require some type of setting (i.e. conference room) to adequately conduct the meeting.

A confused client will never be a good thing for a lawyer and if you have designated a meeting place that is not an actual office with your mailing address, it will cause a blow to your credibility as a lawyer.
First impressions matter in this business and over time, you will see the effect of this on your revenue stream.

Mail costs can and will add up.

It is foolish to think you are getting a great deal with a cheap virtual office NYC because the money is made in other place by these providers. Receiving mail suddenly becomes a huge cost for you which you may not have expected.

Being charged for every piece of mail received is not only outrageous, but will hurt your bottom line as that money can be put elsewhere in your firm.

Cheap virtual offices charge fees…for everything. Think about the receiving of mail; there’s a charge for that. What if you want it placed in an envelope and mailed? There’s a service charge for that as well in addition to the postage fee. All of this adds up to being many times the charge of what the cost to really forward the mail is in actuality.

Virtual Office NYCFull service providers differ by typically charging only a small handling fee to package all your mail. The Law Firm Suites fee is currently only $2.00, much less than “cheap” virtual office providers.

Fees for “packages” will set you back more.

It is not uncommon for cheap providers to put a limit on how many packages you receive. The typical amount limit is five packages per month.

Operators frequently define a “package” as any item not delivered during the one daily USPS mail delivery.  So, anything dropped off by hand delivery, overnight courier or special handling is considered a “package”, no matter how small the item is.

If you’re an attorney that receives a lot of packages throughout the week (case studies, depositions, etc.) it will hurt your wallet because subsequent fees are charged when you exceed your limit. This is in addition to the fees that exist just to have something sent to you.

Most full-service arrangements will not charge excessive fees and do not limit the amount of packages one can receive at the address. At Law Firm Suites, clients typically pick up packages or they have it forwarded. No additional handling fees are charged to the client’s account.

Ethical restrictions may prevent you from using a cheap virtual office address.

Virtual office NYCMany jurisdictions have restrictions about what constitutes a bona fide office. In some cases, a cheap virtual office that is little more than a post office address cannot be used as an office address for a law practice.

Regulators often require that your office address be a place where clients can meet with you or find a representative of your firm.

With full service virtual office arrangements, you meet standards necessary to practice. You just don’t have to worry about the long term commitment.

Do the financial math before you commit to a cheap virtual office.

Cheap virtual office can be a sound investment if it is what is right for your firm or for your current situation, especially if one is just starting out. A cheap office may be beneficial if one does not receive a lot of mail and can swing the hourly conference room rentals.

But keep in mind, it’s a hassle (and expensive) to change a law firm’s business address. So when you are doing your math, if upgrading to more of a full-service location is part of your plan, factor in the cost of your time and the expense to change the firm’s business address when doing your cost-benefit analysis.

You may find that, overall, it may cost much less to go with more of a full-service provider from the beginning.

A quality virtual office is just one step to success.

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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