The number of lawyers starting solo practices continues to grow as more attorneys discover how to run a solo law firm at lower costs, while still being active in the legal community.
Being your own boss and running a solo practice is becoming an increasingly popular decision.
According to the American Bar Association’s Lawyer Demographics 2016 report, 49 percent of lawyers run a solo practice. Also, six percent of new lawyers choose the solo route rather than pursuing a career in big law firms after graduation. That does not mean, however, that these lawyers have to entirely forego the advantages of a larger firm.
No Solo Law Firm Is an Island
When going solo, there are two major impediments for most lawyers.
The first is cost. If you choose to go the route of setting up a traditional office, you may find that overhead can be incredibly expensive. Most solo lawyers don’t need any additional expenses or all of that space to do exceptional work for their clients.
The second is the missed opportunities for referrals and networking that happen naturally in larger practices. As a solo lawyer, the small conversations and meetings that often lead to new client referrals are much harder to come by.
No law firm, regardless of size, can operate effectively without containing costs and building connections that lead to sustainable business growth. No law firm can survive for very long in a vacuum. So what can be done to mitigate these issues and help your solo law practice grow?
Shared Office Space Addresses the Need
Embracing a collaborative economy by choosing shared office space provides a satisfactory solution to both impediments. The ABA’s “Sharing Space” observes:
“Sharing space offers attorneys an ability to defray expenses, share resources and develop collegial relationships.”
On the cost front, the advantages of shared office space are clear. A shared office provides:
- A prestigious office address without the crushing overhead that goes with it
- Conference rooms and offices for client meetings on an as-needed basis
- Secure mail and package delivery services
- A shared receptionist to greet clients and screen calls
In some cases, use of a shared office may help you avoid the expense of hiring extra clerical staff. This includes savings in payroll taxes, compensation packages, and health insurance. You may find that working in this streamlined environment dramatically decreases expense dramatically for your solo firm.
Then, there is the matter of collegial relationships. Unlike working entirely from home, which provides you with limited opportunity to build profitable relationships with colleagues, a shared office space fosters countless networking opportunities. Cultivating new referral sources becomes much simpler, even if you only come into the office space once a week.
This is especially true if the shared office space is inhabited entirely by other solo and small law firms. A recent ABA Journal podcast gives a word of advice, noting that care must be taken to share office space with firms whose practice areas complement your own.
ABA’s monthly podcast goes on to say,
“Ideally, the areas of practice within a suite should complement each other and not directly compete with each other. Diverse practice areas will minimize conflicts and promote thoughtful referrals – another benefit of office sharing. However, also consider whether the clients will feel comfortable sharing the waiting room with the clientele of another firm located within the suite.”
The Bottom Line
Thanks to today’s technology, going solo does not have to mean that you are completely alone. By leveraging shared office space with other solo and small law firms, you can defray some of the cost of running your business, reap the rewards of a collegial environment, and watch your solo practice grow.