Jordan Deifik and Jay Kamlet are seasoned commercial real estate professionals. They are the co-owners of LawBank, Denver’s largest provider of shared office space for attorneys. In addition to maintaining multiple locations throughout the Denver metropolitan area, LawBank helps large law firms fill their empty space with vetted, qualified small law practice tenants.
The keys to coworking success for small law firms
In 2020, practicing solo doesn’t mean practicing alone
Coworking isn’t just for startups and it is not just a fad. Now, coworking isn’t a bad word in the legal industry. Modern law firms can enjoy vibrant work areas where productivity, connectivity and creativity thrive.
Business savvy lawyers are leveraging this type of shared office space as a collaborative tool to grow their practice and succeed in developing the type of law firm they want to own. As a solo attorney or small law firm owner, you have much to gain from the energizing and welcoming atmosphere of this type of office space.
Use these tips to get everything you can out of your coworking experience.
Take advantage of inclusive amenities
Running a cost-efficient law firm is smart business ownership, but it can be harder to put in place than it seems. The overhead expenses that come with running a law firm and renting your own office space can be prohibitive for small and solo firms. Whether you are leaving a “big law” environment to start your own practice or just transitioning to a new environment for your solo firm, plugging into the existing operations of a coworking space can be a game-changer.
Use on-site copy machines, receptionists and other professional tools to get your firm up and running from day one and to streamline your work. Choose a coworking space that offers strategic vendor agreements for discounted services for lawyers of small law firms. These amenities can include high speed internet access, discounted telephone services, conference rooms and more. Know ahead of time which amenities you will require.
Develop a strong business development base
Chances are, one of your law firm’s biggest monthly expenses is commercial rent. In this regard, a modern law firm sees its choice in office space a little differently. The collaborative environment of a shared office space can be a business development opportunity, especially when there are a lot of other lawyers in the community.
Traditional office buildings give very little to law firms when it comes to business development, communication between tenants and networking. Coworking spaces are different as they offer a wide range of areas for you to work in. Take advantage of private rooms for client meetings and private calls, but also make the most of your networking opportunities in shared community spaces.
For small law firms in a collaborative coworking setting, it is easy to pow-wow with a practitioner from another firm over coffee in the kitchen. A passing conversation with someone that practices in a different area of law can lead to industry knowledge and competitive intelligence that can have a direct, positive effect on your practice. It is well known that lawyer-to-lawyer networking is the most fruitful regardless if you have a business or consumer-based practice. Be sure to look at the other tenants in your coworking community to identify how they can serve your needs.
Beyond etiquette, know the rules
The benefits of coworking can become drawbacks if members don’t know or ignore the rules of polite behavior. As a start, don’t use common spaces to engage in loud, drawn-out discussions that detract from others’ work, and avoid barging into others’ private space to network or start conversations. This is one reason that it is crucial to work with a company that provides space exclusively to vetted attorneys. Doing so ensures that you are sharing your space with like-minded, work-focused professionals who will respect your work and your space.
By nature, attorneys need privacy to ensure confidentiality. In other industries, a private VPN, printing codes and the like will not be top of mind are not as likely to be secured. Law is a self-governing industry and each practitioner is personally responsible for taking every effort possible to protect their client’s privacy.
Explore networking events and opportunities
One of the primary benefits of coworking is the numerous networking opportunities you have at your fingertips. Many coworking spaces host continuing education events, meet-and-greets and other gatherings that help members advance professionally while connecting with others.
Coworking facilities that are geared specifically toward lawyers and other professionals might offer CLE credit or marketing centered programming for their members. A growth-focused law firm will take advantage of these events whenever they can.
Additionally, the use of communal workspaces cannot be stressed enough. So, make yourself accessible — the connections you make through a deliberate choice to work in a coworking space could lead to co-counsel opportunities, professional advancement or a case recommendation down the line.
In 2020, practicing solo doesn’t mean practicing alone. Coworking allows small law firms to be a part of a professional revolution that will modernize their practice. Not only does this type of office space provide a home and address for your law firm, but it can lead to business development and networking opportunities. It can also provide amenities that benefit your bottom line every month. Choosing the most ethical community for your law practice to be a part of is your first decision and potentially the one with the biggest repercussions. Choosing to operate a modern law practice in a coworking environment is a smart choice that will help you launch, scale and grow.