How shared workspaces appeal to lawyers across generations
Coworking has the potential to reshape and revitalize the field of law
Shared creative spaces are nothing new. From the revolutionist French salons to the “hackerspaces” of the early 90’s, innovators have always found inspiration and increased productivity when having access to like minds and strong shared goals.
Coworking, the most recent form of the shared workspace, offers professionals an updated model of this concept. And, as coworking spaces have become available to entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, legal professionals have been eager to engage in this collaborative model as a way to support their law practice. With more solo attorneys and small law firms taking advantage of nontraditional work environments, such as shared workspaces, it has become clear that people from different generations choose coworking for unique reasons and benefit from this work environment in distinct ways.
Generation Z is named the “always on” generation for a reason. This group, born between 1996 and 2010, have never lived without the internet. This has defined how and when they work because this population knows how technology can improve productivity. Coworking spaces, especially those that feature high-speed internet, multi-line answering services and other technological amenities, are very attractive for Gen Z.
Being socially connected is another distinguishing factor of this group, and one that fits well with the coworking model. Research from EY shows that 80% of social sharing among this group is done primarily for social connection rather than self-promotion, a marked difference from their millennial predecessors. The attorney-only coworking model connects many different types of lawyers—usually from different, more diverse backgrounds than in a typical office setting—in a way that is socially invigorating.
No generation is more impacted by the rise of coworking than millennials. The Global Coworking Survey found that the average age of a coworking space member is 36 years old, and 37% of coworking space members are between the ages of 30 and 39, highlighting the fact that millennials are drawn to this work solution.
Research indicates that 72% of millennials would like to be their own boss, and if they have to work for someone else, 79% would prefer their boss to serve in a coach or mentor role. Coworking spaces seamlessly combine these two preferences, allowing Millennial solo attorneys to work for themselves while still enjoying access to experienced mentors within their area of specialty.
Generation X, often called the “middle child” of the generational spectrum, came of age in an era where being individualistic, self-motivated and independent was necessary for survival. With a much more flexible worldview than their Baby Boomer predecessors, this group tends to value diversity just as much as it values personal freedom.
Coworking for this demographic is a perfect fit, allowing Gen Xers the freedom and diversity that they crave. In a coworking space, the linear power structure is shaken up, putting attorneys in a position where they can be their own boss or play a crucial role in a case by teaming up with someone else’s firm, regardless of their age or level of experience. In addition, the wide variety of colleagues allows for new perspectives and fresh input, which is especially invigorating to the creative nature of the Gen X legal professional.
Baby Boomers have slowly adapted to the rise of coworking, realizing the value of flexible workspaces and the networking opportunities these spaces provide. Experts note that Baby Boomers want more convenience and fun in their lives, especially as they move from their large single-family homes into city areas to enjoy their golden years.
Coworking attorneys in this generation enjoy proximity to up-and-coming living areas, lots of opportunities to serve as mentors and leaders to other practicing attorneys, and the freedom that comes with being your own boss. As this generation did not grow up with social media and oftentimes do not rely on digital networking for business development, coworking allows for Baby Boomer lawyers to naturally increase their networks through the tried and true tactics that helped them build their careers that center around in-person communication.
Baby Boomers, thanks to their decades of experience, appreciate the restrictions and requirements within the legal industry that protect clients and practicing attorneys. As a result, many turn to lawyer-only coworking spaces that protect professionalism in the office environment, enhance confidentiality for clients, and allow lawyers to safeguard data and funds.
Coworking has the potential to reshape and revitalize the field of law, giving consumers more options to engage with small law firms and allowing more attorneys to pursue their dreams of independent law firm ownership. The collaborative nature of coworking gives attorneys of every generational group the opportunity to share ideas, learn new skills, and manage their law firm more economically. Regardless of age or experience level, every generation has something to learn—and something to offer—in this arrangement.
Jordan Deifik and Jay Kamlet are Colorado based commercial real estate professionals. They co-own LawBank, the largest and oldest shared office space for lawyers. LawBank has multiple locations in the Denver metro area and offers flexible leasing options to attorneys throughout the region. LawBank also assists larger law firms sublet their vacant office space with small law firm tenants. Learn more about LawBank’s amenities and Denver locations.