With the advances in technology, a physical storefront is no longer a necessity when starting a practice. Many solo and small firms begin practicing either at home, through a virtual office, or in a shared office arrangement. A number of considerations play into the decision, such as: What does your target market look like – do you expect walk-ins?; do your prospective clientele prefer face-to-face meetings? are they comfortable using technology? ; Can you find a location convenient for you and your clients?; Do you prefer to work alone or among others?; Do you plan to have staff? In office or virtual?; and most importantly, What is the cost of your office arrangement and will it fit within your budget? (recognize that office space typically consumes the vast portion of most attorney’s budgets).
VIRTUAL LAW OFFICE
A virtual office requires technology, such as an online client portal and web conferencing software (see Start-up Kit: Technology) to interact with clients. If you need it, there are services that will provide a physical mailing address, collect and process mail, provide reception service, and physical conference space.
Virtual Office Providers (non-exclusive listing)
HOME LAW OFFICE
PHYSICAL OFFICE SPACE
Physical office space might take the form of a leased building or floor, or a single rented office. Many attorneys start out in shared office arrangements either with other solo attorneys or within the space of a small firm. These opportunities are primarily discovered through word of mouth. Bar associations, law school alumni boards, and other listservs for attorneys are helpful resources for finding space. For temporary meeting or work space, check with your local bar association. Some bar associations, as well as the Social Law Library, provide office space for member attorneys to work on a temporary basis.
There are significant advantages of a shared office with other attorneys, but also significant ethical issues of which you must be aware.
FURTHER READING FROM OUR LENDING LIBRARY
Virtual Law Practice (Stephanie Kimbro, American Bar Association)