Shared office service companies are supporting a new generation of lawyers that are embracing new ways of practicing law.
In the age of the gig economy, services like Uber & Airbnb are thriving, and so is coworking. The Ubers of office workspaces are enabling even small firms to operate virtually and globally, at the same time! Millennial attorneys are ready to take advantage of the new opportunities the gig economy is creating for them.
Some of the opportunities are not new. Attorneys have been avid users of shared office spaces for decades, mostly in the form of executive suites, but were often skeptical that event-rich, open, coworking spaces could be a workable solution for them. Clearly, the need for privacy and for secured connection to the Internet is a critical requirement in their profession, as they make a living dealing with highly confidential, sensitive, and private matters.
Some flexible office and coworking places like Pacific Workplaces have made it a priority to reconcile the benefits of shared office space with the demand for privacy and security lawyers have, in a highly professional environment. They also added new opportunities for networking and community support, which an attorney can take advantage of just as much as the entrepreneur, sales professional, corporate satellite office user, management consultant, or marketing freelancer, whose type will also be found in most coworking spaces.
The value proposition of a law-firm oriented coworking space can be summarized in these five elements:
- Reduced cost, by accessing a shared infrastructure on a pay-per-use basis, which includes office space but also discounted subscriptions to online law library services.
- Improved customer service by utilizing shared staff and phone answering services
- Flexibility in the use of various workplaces (especially private offices, open coworking, and meeting rooms) and in the terms of the workspace.
- Privacy, by securing access to private offices and soundproof meeting rooms
- Networking, by providing ample opportunities to meet other professionals at in-house events, some of whom may become future clients or will simply form the attorney’s professional support system as relationships develop organically.
This works well for attorneys who secure a private office in a shared office space location, like at Pacific Workplaces Sacramento which has attracted more than its fair share of attorneys and lobbyists, due to its location just a couple of blocks away from the California State Capitol. But the benefits of all five elements of this value proposition can also be attained with the use of inexpensive “Virtual Offices” whose popularity started in Cupertino, California, many years ago.
Put simply, a virtual office plan gives the attorney access to the entire coworking office infrastructure on a pay-per-need basis. It gives users the time and freedom to schedule work around personal and professional needs. Users can work from home on the days they want to and head into the office on the days they don’t.
The new attorney Law Firm can be formally established at the chosen location and use the business address of the coworking place on its web site, business cards, and other collateral. The mail will be received and made available for pick up, or forwarded, scanned, or shredded according to the attorney’s direction. Pacific Workplaces is currently deploying some pretty cool technology tools that automate this process and send an alert with a picture of the un-opened mail to the user’s cell phone, requesting direction on next step. All of that at less than $100/month!
Many additional services are available on a pay-per-use basis. For example, Will Call services allow clients to drop off or pick up documents when the attorney is in court, at meetings, or out of the office.
For a fraction of the price of a full-time office, the virtual office plan user can also have access to 20 hours or 50 hours of day offices per month, depending upon the Virtual Office Plan subscription level. A day office is a part-time office, fully furnished and fully functional, but one where you can’t leave your golf trophy or kids picture on the wall – sorry! The day office hours can be redeemed for access to large meeting rooms via a simple credit system (day offices will cost you one credit per hour, larger rooms more credits).
A full fledged legal Virtual Office will also provide the attorney with a local phone number and live phone answering service that will answer calls on their behalf 12 hours a day. There are two main benefits for that service that are highly utilized by attorneys:
- Presence and responsiveness to a client call any time of the day during business hours, which starts with a friendly “Thank you for calling the Law Offices of XYZ, this is Jamie, how may I help you?”. Calls can be forwarded to voicemail or patched to the user’s cell phone, per his/her direction.
- Call announcing may give the extra few seconds necessary to recollect the case that the caller is inquiring about – enough to be fully on top of the situation when the phone attendant transfers the call.
To summarize, legal virtual offices work particularly well for three kinds of attorneys:
- Attorneys who wish to establish a new practice under a tight budget
- Attorneys who prefer to work from home but need a professional “storefront” and a private, professional office place to meet clients
- Regional or national firms that want to establish branch offices at a reduced cost in multiple global markets.
Special offer for California & Nevada State Bar Attorneys: Choose any Virtual Office Plan and pay just $10 bucks your first month + no setup fees! Sign-up.