Shared law office space is an option used by solos and small firms for three main reasons.
The term “shared law office space” is something that is relatively new to the real estate market. However, this is a concept that has been going on for decades.
Solo attorneys will often rent an office from a small firm or a shared space because there is high value in working around other like-minded professionals even if you don’t belong to the same firm.
If you’re thinking about starting a solo law practice, or are already practicing and in the market for different office space, here are the top 3 reasons why you should consider shared law office space.
1. High fees associated with a standard commercial lease are minimized.
Shared spaces tend to be significantly less expensive than a standard office lease agreement. For you that means a lower investment and less of a time commitment.
For a shared space, the typical time frame is about a year to commit and a much smaller deposit to secure the space. Compared to a direct-to-landlord lease, it’s a much heftier deposit and often up to a five year commitment.
Plus, a shared office space is often a turn-key setup. All you have to do is move in your stuff and you’re ready to go!
On the other hand, a standard commercial lease can require much more time than anticipated to move in. You will likely be spending time on renovations and setting up services. Moving in may not actually happen until months after signing on the dotted line.
Finally, in shared office space, solo lawyers can get access to the office equipment and administrative staff necessary to run a law office, without the expense of carrying the cost for these items all on their own.
2. Collaborative opportunities can exist in your shared space!
Lawyers are smart and very informed when it comes to their practice area, but what about questions about other practice areas?
Lawyers don’t know everything and that’s okay because it opens up the chance to find an attorney within the shared space who does know and can collaborate.
Think about an immigration attorney who needs help with a family law question or even a criminal matter. A standard lease agreement may minimize this opportunity to collaborate because you really aren’t around other attorneys of differing practices.
A shared space exclusive to lawyers changes that by putting networking and collaborative opportunities in close proximity and for your clients, you come off as more of a full-service firm with the help of colleagues.
A number of attorneys have shared with us specific examples of how they have collaborated with other lawyers in shared office space. Here’s a sample:
- An attorney loaned a treatise (and gave a push in the right direction) that saves a colleague $10,000 in billable time.
- A group of attorneys helped test closing arguments on a Saturday…because it was fun for them. This gave the trial firm the confidence to demand a settlement that was 30% more than they originally thought the case was worth.
- A more experienced attorney helped a younger colleague practice client intake meetings that helped him land more clients.
- Two attorneys had an impromptu conversation about collecting from deadbeat clients that led to the immediate collection of $65k in outstanding bills.
- One attorney gave another a copy of that one form for Queens Supreme Court – Civil Term that you cannot find.
3. The right space will put you in line with the right referrals.
Interaction with other attorneys puts you directly in line to receive a referral. This is true because you are making yourself known in the space. Over time, you may find yourself generating referrals that could potentially cover your entire rent and more some day.
For example in NYC, in a cheap shared office space rental, a lawyer can expect to pay, minimally, $1,000 per month. If that firm can transform their rent from a fixed expense to a profit center, the firm can add significant additional profit to the firm’s bottom line.
An extra $1,000 (or more) in profit can pay the monthly lease on your apartment, earn you a nice little shopping spree or even help you save for a rainy day.
The key to making this happen is being selective about the other attorneys in the shared office space. This is a particular issue in spaces where there are few resident lawyers, like what you would find in your typical lawyer co-op or a subleased office from another law firm. (This is somewhat less of a concern in a bigger shared office space with many self-employed attorneys practicing in different areas of the law, like what you would find in an executive suite for law firms.)
If an attorney is expecting to collaborate or earn referrals in the future, he or she should make sure other attorneys in the space have complementary practice areas and that the office is social in culture.
Keep in mind that just because there are attorneys in a shared office space that could send referrals does not mean that they will. If the office space has a culture where everyone sticks to themselves behind closed, locked doors, then you’ll never have an opportunity to build the relationships required to exchange referrals.
Having friendly and outgoing tenants in your shared space makes it easier and more natural to build referral potential.
I’m Joleena Louis and I’m a divorce attorney.
My name is Jonathan Geballe, and my practice areas are primarily real estate
My name is Steven MetcaIf II, and I primarily practice criminal defense
My name is Michael Grossman. I do primarily personal injury cases.
I think being with the community of lawyers in various specialties has increased my income, rather dramatically.
Probably over 85% of my business came from other attorneys from Law Firm Suites.
Yeah, well, Law Firm Suites is actually produced for me, sufficient amount of my client base that I don’t really need to do out of the office networking.
If you want to be more successful, you have to surround yourself with more successful people.
Since I’ve been here. I’ve been here, what, I think about five years now or going on five years. I’ve processed and completed two of the largest cases I’ve had since I started practicing.
We got some big cases, we got some big outcomes, and we’ve brought in at the end of the day some money, some big money. And being here in this office allowed us to be able to do each of those things.
and part of it is because with the other attorneys around, I can rely on them if nothing else for encouragement and pushing me forward and not giving up on something that appears very difficult.
It does mean that the time I have to spend thinking about where is my next case coming from, has pretty much dropped off.
I really don’t think that my practice would be where it is now without Law Firm Suites.