An office sublet in NYC can seem like a perfect solution at first. But the money saved might not be worth it in the long run.
Some lawyers wear a number of different hats, including “landlord.” For some, a sublet arrangement works for both parties. But, often the arrangement is not favorable for the subtenant. In extreme situations, it could even put your practice at risk.
Before you move into another firm’s empty office, try to look objectively at the downsides as well as the potential benefits. What seems like a cost-saving plan could evolve into a disagreeable commitment.
An Office Sublet in NYC Might Indicate Financial Difficulties
Why might a law firm sublet space to another lawyer? It could be for no other reason than to cover the firm’s overhead. But when you weigh rental income against the time spent on landlord duties, the math doesn’t always add up for firms subleasing office space.
Rents collected shouldn’t compare to the firm’s potential billable hours. Many times, firms who sublet office space are on unstable financial ground. The last thing you want is to settle into an office and then shortly thereafter learn that the firm is relocating to a new location. Try to learn everything you can about the firm’s solvency before you agree to sublet.
Their Rules Become Your Rules
Every practice has its own house rules. When you work inside another firm’s office, their rules trump yours. The working arrangement might be absolutely professional. Any quirks could be easy enough to live with in exchange for a good address and low rent. But what if their quirks go against your grain?
Another firm might expect you to share equally in the cost of office supplies, even though you’re only one among many lawyers who practice there. Is there a policy about using conference rooms? If not, you might find that a first-come, first-served approach leaves you scrambling for meeting space. Investigate the house rules well in advance.
Subtenants Aren’t In the Club
You wouldn’t expect to be brought in under the professional umbrella of a sublessor, but you should expect certain professional courtesies. With an office sublet in NYC, you might get less than you bargained for. In fact, some subtenants may be treated as a necessary nuisance.
If there’s a problem, like internet issues or a lack of conference room space, you might be on your own to resolve it. Likewise, the receptionist might not always prioritize your calls and messages. In contrast, in a professionally managed shared law office, there is no pecking order. Your practice operates by the same mutually-beneficial rules as everyone else.
Good Signs Might Not be so Great
What could go wrong with subletting from a thriving practice? It seems like a perfect setup. But your landlord might soon find a better use for your office. You may find that your awesome sublet is terminated sooner than you had anticipated.
The sublessor’s practice always comes first. If they need to grow, your office might be the first place they look for the space to do so.
An office sublet in NYC might seem like an ideal solution. It’s certainly the route that many solo lawyers take. But, there are many potential downsides, any of which could affect the growth and success of your practice.