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Law Practice Management and Technology

The Bottom Line Volume 35, No. 1, February 2014

Coach’s Corner: How to Assess the Office Your Law Practice Needs

By Ed Poll, Esq.
Principal, LawBiz® Management

Regardless of a law firm’s size, office space is inevitably a large and complex expenditure – certainly in the top three expense categories for any firm. In these days of home offices, telecommuting, and virtual offices (often all one in the same phenomenon), some futuristic thinkers declare that where lawyers practice is irrelevant, so long as clients can call or email them. In an abstract sense that may be true. But, just as electronic files are unlikely to replace books and paper, the physical setting where lawyers interact with clients and colleagues will remain essential to defining almost all practices.

The Rules of Professional Conduct do not explicitly require a physical office, but obligations such as those under Rule 1.4 (regularly consulting with a client), Rule 1.6 (confidential communication) and Rule 1.15 (safekeeping client property) are best met in a physical office setting. That setting speaks loudly and clearly to clients about what kind of firm you are. If your firm’s clients are blue collar workers, you may want to be near public transportation. If a number of clients are accused criminal defendants, proximity to the court house and bail bondsmen is important. If most of your clients come from suburban or exurban locations, they might prefer a location with ample free parking. Such messages define your firm much more clearly than any marketing brochure or advertisement.

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