Friday, August 10, 2007

Virtual Office Space

Being very interested in the concept of virtual offices, since I am running one, I was interested to see an article in the August ABA Journal about yet another lawyer who forgoes the idea of a permanent office in favor of working from home and other handy locations. The lawyer who was the subject of the article started, as I do, working exclusively from home. However, she found some reluctance on the part of her business clients, or potential clients, to retain her once they saw her residential address.

I suppose a big part of our business still favors style over substance. However, there is a cure. A company called Regus has developed a series of "Virtual Offices." These offer you a physical location, usually downtown or in other business friendly locations. For a low price, around $200.00, you get a local phone number, someone to answer that phone, voice mail, mail forwarding and two days a month of time you can actually use the office. Need it more? There is a package that gives you five days a month. And it appears that you can, for additional fees, get time in meeting rooms, etc, on a first come, first served basis.

This would seem to be a perfect place to have to meet clients, conduct depositions and do other tasks that normally require a physical location. I am toying with the idea of getting into one of their buildings in the downtown Nashville area.

The article didn't mention whether anyone had looked at the ethics of these arrangements. At first blush, I think it's ok. It would probably be best if you disclose to the clients what the arrangement is. It might be considered deceitful if you hold out that "This is my office" leading people to believe that you are renting the (expensive) space on a full time basis. And some states have rules regarding lawyers sharing office space with non-lawyers, requiring special action to preserve client confidences, etc. Still, overall, I think it should be ok and that perhaps the various boards should look at the rules and revise them a bit to better fit the modern way of doing business.

I have not yet decided to go this route, but I am considering it. I get quite a few inquiries from Tennessee, but not a lot of conversions. There could be many reasons for this, but one might be not having an office to get the clients into for meetings and to discuss their legal matters. An office with Regus might help that along.

The ABA Article can be read at:

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