There are a lot of things you must consider when looking into office space. Lawyers have different needs than some other office users, such as need for space for document storage and proximity to courts or other legal services. This post will go over the questions you need to consider when looking at space. The next post will highlight the specific things you should find out before signing a lease.
Make sure you have figured out your budget before you start looking. There’s no sense in finding the perfect space only to discover it is 3 more than you can afford to pay each month. Also consider your expenses beyond rent – are utilities included in your lease? Will you need to pay for internet, phone, storage, shredding, etc? Consider all the costs of running your business each month, not just rent for square footage.
Type of Practice
Consider how your office space can best suit the particular needs of your practice. Do you go to court a lot or do you spend a lot of time in client meetings? How many people generally sit in your client meetings – how large does your conference room need to be?
Type of Office
Think about your personal preferences of what sort of space you work best in. Do you need a calm, quiet space, or do you thrive in the hustle and bustle of a busy office? What kind of location works best for you – downtown, suburban, somewhere in between? What kind of décor do you like? This may seem minor, but you will spend a lot of time in your office and you should find your surroundings pleasant. Your décor also says something to your clients – if you are a young, hip, solo-practice lawyer who does most of your work virtually, you probably don’t want a traditional wood-paneling and leather couch office.
Convenience for you and your clients
Location is especially important, for you and your clients. How easy is it for you to get to your office? Are you expecting to drive, use public transit, walk, or bike? How long of a commute will you have every day? How much will it cost you for parking at your location?
Also think about your clients – if a lot of your clients live in the suburbs, and you don’t spend a lot of time in court, it may be an inconvenience for them to come downtown. Also think about parking and access for your clients – is your building easy to get to, is there affordable parking nearby, is it easy to give directions to first-time visitors? Conversely, if you spend a lot of time at court, you may want to find an office close by.
Think about what other services you will need, and if your office can provide them. Are you just renting a space and providing all the office support yourself? Do you need a receptionist, mail service, internet access, use of printers, scanners, or other office equipment, conference rooms, etc? All of these things add to the cost of your office space. Also think about the various options for sharing space – do you partner with other solo-practice lawyers to share costs? Do you sublease from an existing practice? Do you rent with an executive suite that provides virtual office services?
We hope these tips are useful in helping you search for an office. Part 2 will discuss specific questions you should keep in mind when touring a potential space.
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