Low fees may have an appeal at first for a virtual office NYC, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for in the end.
In New York City, a virtual office is not difficult to find. Due to their abundance, a virtual office NYC can often be found very cheaply.
For the attorney on a budget, a cheap virtual office may be a Godsend and is typically the final element needed to give that push into signing the agreement.
At first, the “cheap” virtual office may seem like a good option, but as time goes on, an attorney may find themselves wondering why they even decided to go the cheap route.
What is a virtual office NYC?
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?
The 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:
Costs to obtain an office are astronomical, especially in the NYC real estate industry. A virtual office may be the only solution for some attorneys and in many ways allows them to bridge the gap to one day having an office space.
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.
Full-service v. cheap virtual office packages.
“Full-service” arrangements are typically the best route to go for attorneys. Traditional office rentals are often more restrictive while the virtual office agreement allows flexibility. Full service virtual rentals promote this flexibility while still allowing the amenities provided by a traditional office rental. These amenities might include conference room hours, access to day offices, and guest reception.
Basic is a word that is a hinderance for virtual offices and attorneys. Being too basic means you get the bare minimum (typically just a mail drop and use of the commercial address). Although attorneys do have a needs for a commercial address, they need much more than that to ensure success. Having no guest reception and inadequate conference room time, will have the attorney questioning their choice.
Conference rooms may not be offered, requiring you to meet clients somewhere other than your office.
The address you claim may not be the place you meet clients.
Businesses with minimum interaction with clients may find the cheap virtual office the right way to go. If you are a lawyer, where client interaction is key to practice, this will not be the case. Face-to-face interactions are entirely necessary to ensure adequate information is gathered, whether you are doing a first-time consultation, closing, or a deposition. A conference room is typically needed to host such an event.
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.
Great deals are often very rare when it comes to a cheap virtual office NYC. When something is being promoted as a “cheap” option, the costs are often seen in other places than the price tag of the virtual office. Receiving mail is often the largest hidden cost and is likely unexpected for the attorney who sought out this cheap virtual office.
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.
A cheap virtual office provider makes its money in the fees that consumers do not anticipate. These fees are relevant to just about everything. You’ll be charged for receiving your mail in addition to having it sent out. Even a stamp is a fee. This goes well beyond the actual cost of what is is to send out mail, but the provider just looks at it as offering a service.
Full 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 hurt your wallet even 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.
Many jurisdictions have restrictions about what constitutes a bona fide office. In some cases, a cheap virtual office that is slightly more than a post office address cannot be used as an office address for a law practice.
Regulators often require that your commercial 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. The main difference is there is no 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.
In the end, you might find that going with a full-service virtual office provider is not only the best option, but the only option for the needs of your firm.