A Good Time For Shared Law Office Space

11-10-2015 | by Looking For Space

The commercial real estate market in NYC is on fire - and I don't think there is another time when the small tenant has been more disadvantaged than right now. When I think of "small tenants", the image conjured up in my mind is a small law firm requiring between 3 and 4 windowed offices and 2 workstations. The 4 office user would likely be searching for about 3,000 sq. ft. of separate space, depending on the layout of the office building's floor plate. The space would require a separate reception area, conference room, kitchen and copy center / document preparation area. It would most likely have a small filing room / closet, as well. In Midtown, this 3,000 sq. ft. space would cost, on average, $58.00 per sq. ft. (including electricity) or about $14,500 per month. Add to this the cost of a receptionist (if you have one) as well as phone system/IT infrastructure and the price goes up along with annual increases for base rent escalation as well as the tenant's proportionate share of increases in real estate taxes.

That's all well and good if you can find $55.00 space in midtown that is acceptable - but more likely than not, you won't be able to find a small space at that price, where you'd feel good about your clients visiting your office. This is because of the intense competition of TAMI tenants funded by sources other than their business operations, as well as most landlord's continued desire to consolidate divided floors into single entity, full floor occupancy. As a result, the availability of decent and affordable small office space in NYC continues to dwindle.

The shared office space option, within the premises of an existing law firm, evidences a trend that the small or solo practitioner can take immediate advantage of. Here a "guest" sub tenant can move right in to a plug and play situation that is managed by the "host" tenant, where the guest can take full advantage of the amenities and services provided on the host's platform. Many of these situations are completely furnished with a phone system in place. Literally you just have to port your phone lines and open a new internet account, and you're in business almost immediately. Many shared law office situations also incorporate telephone answering by professional receptionist who will also meet and greet your clients, and each firm offers shared conference room use as required (usually by prior sign-up).

We just completed a sublease on behalf of a Midtown law firm that hired us to rent offices in their firm. The "host" firm offered:

  • 1 large corner partner office
  • 3 senior associate offices
  • 2 workstations

The rental of the offices was paired with the following services and amenities:

  • Full time professional receptionist
  • Telephone answering (in your firm's name)
  • 3 shared conference rooms
  • Full kitchen / lunch room
  • High speed copy/scan/fax (coded)
  • Dedicated file room space (shared)

The lease of this space which we think was equivalent to what they would have gotten in the hypothetical 3,000 sq. ft. space described above, was rented for a 4 year term starting at $13,000 per month. Note, these numbers can go either way when making this type of comparison (maybe they could have found a 2500 sq. ft. space that fit quite well) but the point is that for roughly the same money, and most likely a little less, you can find shared law office space on LookingForSpace.com where someone else bears the management and technical burden and you just practice law. And, another benefit could arise by practicing law in an environment with many other attorneys because there is always the possibility that there could be extra work or extra professional help that goes hand in hand with your practice.

In conclusion, we feel that the availability of shared law office space in Manhattan presents an opportunity for the small or solo practitioner that provides economic and business benefits beyond what a small firm can achieve renting dedicated commercial office space. Further, in many listings on the website it is made clear that the "host" firm will accept guests that are other appropriate professionals so the field is really open in many cases to accountants, financial professionals and other professionals who would work well in a shared law office space environment.

If you are looking for space you can view all of our listings for free - and make direct, principal to principal contact with the party advertising the available offices.

If your firm has extra offices available for sublease, we can help you source appropriate attorneys and other professionals who are looking for space online.

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