In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, Joleena Louis discusses the positives and negatives of switching from an office rental to a virtual office.
Back in 2014 I wrote about my decision to have a physical office space instead of a virtual office. It was probably the most difficult decision I made when starting my practice, but looking back I still think it was the right one.
After much deliberation, last year I switched from that office rental to a virtual office because it made more sense for me.
Why I originally chose a shared law office
When I started my practice, a physical office had a lot more pros for me.
At the time I had a husband and a dog. It was difficult for me to work at home without distractions. Working in a dedicated office space outside of my home gave me the ability to focus and get more work done.
Another huge benefit was the ability to meet other lawyers. My practice would not have been as successful as it was in the first year if it wasn’t for all of the connections I made with the other attorneys in my office suite.
The majority of my early cases were referrals from the other attorneys at Law Firm Suites, and I still regularly get referrals from them.Deciding whether to have a physical or virtual office can be one of the most difficult decisions facing new #sololawyers Click To Tweet
It was also extremely helpful to have other attorneys around to ask questions or simply complain about the business of running a law firm.
And finally, I think having made a commitment to keep the office space that first year made it more difficult for me to give up when things got difficult. It would have been harder (and more embarrassing) to move out of my office rental than quietly closing a virtual law firm.
Why I decided to switch from an office rental to a virtual office
As a matrimonial attorney, most of my days are spent in court. After my divorce I was going to my office less frequently. Once I was living alone again, this time without distractions, I found it easier to work from my home office.
My personal expenses had increased as a result of the separation and I couldn’t justify the cost of an office rental that I wasn’t using.
With a virtual office I still get a professional mailing address and access to conference rooms for meeting clients. In fact most of my clients don’t know that I no longer rent a “physical’ office in my legal suite.
As long as I have place to meet clients, I found that a dedicated ofﬁce space wasn’t necessary to meet the needs of my practice.
What I miss most about renting an office
The most difficult part of the transition from an office rental to a virtual office has been finding time to regularly network with other lawyers.
Since I work from home I have to make the extra effort to regularly meet with other attorneys and referral sources.
The other challenge is transitioning from personal mode to business mode. The commute to my office used to get me into business mode. Now that I no longer commute, unless I have court in the morning, it can be challenging for me to get my workday started on time. Since I began working from home, I’ve delineated home time and work time by going to the gym before starting my workday.
Having the freedom to work from wherever I want is a great benefit of a virtual office. I’ve found different spots to work from when I need to get out of the apartment such as local coffee shops, the park near my house, or even the beach if the weather permits. I can always reserve a workstation or conference room at Law Firm Suites if I need a more professional work environment.
Most people start with a virtual office and later move into an office rental. I did it in the reverse, but it worked really well for me.
I don’t think my practice would have been as successful had I not started with an office rental. I miss having my office and the people who worked around me, but right now, the flexibility a virtual office affords fits better with my current lifestyle.