Most lawyers view law office rentals as a necessary commodity. While this sentiment may be true, it is short-sighted.
Your office space should be as monetarily productive as a junior associate. And just as your junior associate has a billable hours target, your office space should be held to the same standard.
It should be something other than one of your firm’s largest fixed expenses. In my practice, I always made office space one of the most important parts of my marketing strategy.
But why? It’s simple, I always shared space with other attorneys whose practice areas are complementary to mine. This way I am able to send many client referrals to these other attorneys, and they, in turn, send client referrals to me. These referrals then end up being a meaningful source of new business for my firm.
I mean, you are going to be in your office anyway. Shouldn’t you be making the most of your monthly investment?
Plus, it’s fun – or at least less distasteful as compared to other kinds of marketing activities. Cultivating referral relationships with attorneys in your office takes very little effort or time – a precious commodity in our line of work.
Think about it. You will see your office mates every day. This is the easiest networking you will ever engage in. All you have to do is simply show up and be friendly.
Building referral relationships is an easy two-step process. First, find common ground. Then, build off that common ground with casual conversations. In a shared workspace, you can do this as you go about your regular workday.
This approach may seem purely opportunistic. But it’s not.
In our profession, long days are part of the job. We spend many waking hours with our office colleagues. In some weeks, I saw my office suitemates more than my wife and kids. Getting to know the people with whom I share office space makes my work life more enjoyable, so I make the extra effort to do so.
The referral exchange is merely a natural extension of our personal relationship – without which, the referrals wouldn’t likely happen. As with any good referral relationship, a personal connection must come first.
Physical and social organization work hand-in-hand
Just because a marketing technique is easy doesn’t mean you can sit back, relax and see results start to pour in. Networking with your office colleagues may be as simple as a “nod of the head” in the shared hallway of your law office. But, that head nod alone will not produce referral income from your office mates. Like anything else, you have to put in the time. Sometimes this means making the time for being social.
This is where physical organization (the find-a-document-when-you-need it kind) becomes important. Physical organization will make you more efficient, freeing up time for the kind of social interaction that results in securing business opportunities.
Being socially organized puts you in the best position to maximize those opportunities when they present themselves to you.
The most successful people achieve a balance between physical and social organization. This is especially true for lawyers. You must be physically organized to practice and effectively advocate for your clients. But, you must be socially organized to actually get the client in the first place.
So whether your office is in a big attorney-only executive suite like Law Firm Suites, or a six-attorney legal suite, by following these simple tips about organization you will get the most value out of your shared law office space.