Practicing law using a New York virtual office can mean more than just a professional address. Make sure you’re going to take full advantage of the benefits.
When some solo attorneys first launch their law practice, a traditional office space is out of their financial reach or they simply want to work from home. In any case, a virtual office is an affordable office arrangement that will support their professional image.
It seems like a simple solution, right? Nothing else to it other than paying a monthly fee for a professional address.
Not quite. There are other things you must consider when deciding to operate your law firm through a New York virtual office. Otherwise, you won’t experience the full benefits and you might even jeopardize the success of your firm.
Here are some obvious signs that you may be wasting the potential of your New York virtual office:
1. You want a professional address, but you’re too focused on price
If you only want a low-cost New York virtual office that will provide you with a Manhattan address and mail services, perhaps you’re missing the bigger picture.
You should look for a full-service provider that can support the growth of your practice over time. If you don’t, then you risk dealing with the hassle (and expense) of changing your business address in the future when you have to switch to a provider that meets more of your needs.
Sometimes the key to success is being able to recognize a good opportunity for growth and not hesitating to follow through with it. For example, you should value the resources and connections your New York virtual office can offer you over the price because you’ll see a significantly greater return on your investment.
Additionally, according to our research, only the full-service providers offered virtual office services that met ethics rules. Something else to consider.
2. You want the flexibility, but you’re not ready for the hard work
Starting your own law practice and working from home will afford you a lot of flexibility in your personal and professional life. You’ll be able to create your own schedule and work when you’re most productive.
But you should keep in mind that the flexibility of being your own boss doesn’t reduce the amount of hours you’ll have to work. It also doesn’t relieve the challenges associated with running your own business.
For example, don’t set up your law practice with a New York virtual office and expect the clients to come to you. You must put in the time and effort to make sure your law practice succeeds.
Since you won’t likely be going to an office every day to mingle with your peers, operating a law firm from a New York virtual office will require you to be exceptionally diligent about keeping in touch with your network and seeking out opportunities to meet people. For example, meeting other attorneys at the shared office space where your virtual office is located will require you to take action and actually get out of your home.
You can also consider contacting the staff at your New York virtual office to have them connect you to potential referral sources. With a little extra effort, you can bring in new business for your firm, but you have to be willing to be proactive.
3. You want to network, but you want to always work from home
Working exclusively at home will severely limit your opportunities to meet new referral sources. Coming into the physical office where your virtual office is located a few times a month will help you meet other attorneys who could refer you new business.
Simply going to an office and having face-to-face interactions with other attorneys while you work is much easier than attending a dozen networking events where everyone feels pressured to meet people. Sometimes it’s easier to chat with someone in a shared law office space than trying to sell yourself in ten minutes at a crowded event.
Spend a little extra time around the office when you come in for a client meeting and ask the staff to introduce you to some of the suitemates. Rent desk space for a day or two (or get a package where day office space is included) and make an effort to introduce yourself to anyone else who has dropped in for the day. The point is to leave your home office and use your New York virtual office to meet referral sources in person, otherwise you’ll risk feeling isolated and you’ll be missing out on new clients.
4. You want new clients, but you’re unwilling to reach out
Spending most of your time working from home can be very isolating and it reduces your chances of meeting other legal professionals who could refer you business. You want an easy way to bring in new business, but you neglect to reach out to one key resources: the staff members who operate your virtual office.
The staff running the office suite that provides your virtual office services are familiar with other clients, both virtual and office rental. If you contact them and let them know you want to be introduced to other attorneys in particular practice areas, they can certainly help connect you. Since you both have a connection to the virtual office space, there’s an instant bond to build from, making building a relationship that much easier.
You can also contact them if you have a piece of business to refer out. They can pass it along to a client, who will appreciate the referral and feel inclined to reciprocate. Even if the referral doesn’t work out, you’ve established a valuable professional relationship with someone that could result in new opportunities for both of you.
5. You’re willing to plan, but you’re afraid to fail
You understand the value of planning because you understand that every decision you make will impact your ability to get new clients. For example, you may have thought strategically about what type of impression the office space of your virtual office would make if you met a client there. You know successful solos think about these details and include them in their plans.
However, even if you did create a solid, strategic business plan, you must be willing to take risks and put yourself out there in order to create growth for your law practice.
For example, you might doubt you have the social skills to make connections with other attorneys so you stay home and never come into the physical office of your New York virtual office provider. Or you’re afraid the referral you want to send to a staff member to pass along to another attorney won’t work out so you keep it to yourself.
These are possible failures you should never avoid because you never know when you might get along with the right person or when a referral will work out. You must keep trying.
Acting as if you’re unwilling to fail means you aren’t ready to accept that there are no guarantees in small firm practice. You may be so risk averse from practicing law that you haven’t learned how to use risk as a learning tool. As a solo, you must understand that you’ll sometimes gain more from your failures than from your triumphs and you never know when something will work out in your favor.
6. You’re good at what you do, but you don’t want to learn new things
Don’t approach managing your business as if you know everything because that is the easiest way to inhibit the growth of your firm. It’s impossible to build a successful law practice if you’re unwilling to learn and try new things.
Running your own law firm will require skills beyond what you learned in law school, and you’ll have to work hard to find resources that will teach you those skills. You must be willing to seek advice from other attorneys at your virtual office provider. Learning from other experienced solos is the best way to find solutions to your biggest problems, such as getting new clients and increasing efficiencies in your practice. Admit that you don’t have all the answers and be open to learning from your peers.
In addition to being open to learning, it’s important to build a support system that will facilitate learning. For example, you can use your New York virtual office as a way to find a mentor. The staff can connect you to another solo attorney who can answer your questions, offer you advice and even bring you into their network. Having someone to call or email when you need guidance will help you feel more secure in your business decisions.
7. You care about your image, but you won’t spend time on your branding
It’s likely you chose a New York virtual office for your business address because you understand how it will boost your credibility and you know it will impress clients. You know that maintaining an image of success as a solo attorney is important to running a successful business.
However, there is more to your branding than an impressive address for your law firm or a professional office space to meet clients. As critical as these two things are, you should also understand that cultivating a brand will take thought and consistent effort.
Quality branding will require you to think critically about what you want to communicate to potential clients, how you’ll create an authentic message and in what ways you’ll set yourself apart, including the way you dress, the quality of your social media platforms, your law firm blog and your website.
If you’re not willing to dedicate time to defining and effectively communicating your brand message, then you aren’t prepared to run a successful firm. Your New York virtual office should complement your brand, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.