Coworking has garnered a lot of buzz in the media and by techie types. But the bottom line is, lawyers have been coworking for decades. It can be a great option for your law practice and boost your career.
The modern coworking movement evokes images of large, airy rooms with a more casual feel than traditional office space. Think ‘Last Supper’ style tables and chairs, clever decor, white board walls, lots of coffee and sometimes beer.
But by definition, coworking is simply multiple professionals sharing office space that, by proximity and shared business goals, reaps certain advantages than other types of office arrangements.
The reality is, any shared law office space is, at its basic level, coworking.
And whether you choose a subscription package where you get unlimited use of non-dedicated workspace, or a dedicated deskspace or office rental, here’s the top 3 reasons why coworking may be a good fit for your law practice.
1. It’s cheaper than a standard lease agreement.
When you start out as a solo attorney, your access to resources is limited. If you think about it, working in a shared-law office space may very well be your best solution to bridging the gap and later acquiring those resources. A coworking space provides the element of collaboration and even opportunities to co-counsel. All of this comes without the immense pressure of making a huge rent payment on a long-term fixed lease, and is replaced with a more manageable option.
2. The environment is both social and collaborative.
For coworking to be successful, you need to actually be present in the office as often as possible to reap its benefits. Without consistent use of the space, you lose out on the potential indefinitely. Using a space keeps you in the mindset of work and being surrounded by like-minded people doesn’t hurt either.
Lawyers in certain practice disciplines often need the advice of other attorneys in complementary practice disciplines to fully and competently service client matters.
For example, in a B-to-C practice such as immigration, attorneys often have practice questions in family law, criminal defense and employment.
Coworking centers that cater to a particular profession, specifically those with lawyers, provide a plethora of varied expertise and experience. Quick answers to common issues makes lawyers more successful.. And in a profession that still, for the most part, trades time for money, expediency is everything. Someone who needs answers may just ask for your help, that can lead to co-counsel arrangements or a client referral.
Having a community of other professionals at your fingertips makes things easier on a solo attorney and is better than trying to find the answers on your own. You can promote your service as being more “full service” should that need occur.
3. Potential for referral sharing is increased.
Collaborative work environments, like those found in coworking centers, often result in client referrals.
Coworking centers promote networking and collaboration. The shared professional “mission” is the driving force behind this.
Conversations are easy because you have the same educational and professional background as your peers. It’s an important accelerator to building a relationship, and relationship building is the key to developing referral partners.
That being said, this level of referral sharing directly depends on the types of members within the community. If a coworking facility is not heavily comprised of lawyers, the referral exchange may be weak or non-existing at all.
For most lawyers, in a carefully chosen coworking space, the benefit derived from referrals should exceed the fees paid for use of the coworking space.