In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York solo lawyer Joleena Louis talks about her decision to practice with a virtual office and why she hasn’t looked back since.
Back in 2015, I made the difficult to give up my private office at Law Firm Suites and go virtual. Several things contributed to this decision, one being that I was not there often enough and the other was the need to save money after my divorce.
Starting with a physical space at Law Firm Suites propelled my baby law practice to great heights, and switching to a virtual practice when I did had the same propelling effect.
Here are some of the ways my business has benefited from using a virtual office:
The biggest benefit of switching to a virtual office was that it drastically cut my expenses. As my revenue grew, so did my profits since I was not paying for a physical space.
Since I work virtually when I realized I needed to delegate some of my work I decided on a virtual solution, hiring a virtual assistant. Had I stayed in my physical office space, I probably would have considered hiring a full-time assistant, which would have greatly increased my expenses.
Force Myself to Network
When I had the physical office space, it was super easy to network with other attorneys. One of the things that drew me to Law Firm Suites was the community of lawyers and I could easily run into a different lawyer every day and invite them to lunch. The staff was also really great a connecting me with other attorneys either in the suite or who were virtual.
Since starting my virtual practice, I’m not at Law Firm Suites as often so I have to work a little harder to make those connections and to continue that “community” feeling. I have to be more strategic about it, and it has really paid off!
I Have Less “Stuff”
When I had an office I quickly filled it with stuff and it was easy to maintain paper files. Now that I’m virtual, I try to keep equipment (and paper) to a minimum. All I really need is my phone laptop, or iPad and a wifi connection.
This has made me much more efficient. I never have to look for files, I rarely have to print or copy, and I’ve gotten good at using technology to accomplish all my tasks on my smartphone. And having that flexibility has made all the difference for me.
I Can Work From Anywhere
The best part of having a virtual practice is the ability to work from anywhere without feeling bad about not using the office I’m paying for. I’ve traveled extensively this year with no interruption to my work. I love not being tied to a desk and having the ability to go write my motion at Coney Island beach if I want – since everything I need is on the cloud.
Working virtually is not for everyone, but it’s something to consider if you want to keep expenses low and have flexibility. The transition was seamless for me, with most clients not even realizing I’m virtual until I tell them. Plus I can still meet me in the conferences rooms at Law Firm Suites. Since there is always someone there to sign for packages or take docs that a client stops by to drop off, there is no inconvenience for my clients and I can keep my fees competitive and still make a decent profit.
The decision to go virtual is one I don’t regret and I would absolutely make the same decision again.