A Primer For Shared Legal Offices

10-15-2019 | by Looking For Space

A Primer For Shared Legal Office Space

So, you have an extra office and you're thinking of renting it out...

You've just found the experts in the field of shared professional office space and using our website we can help you from the beginning, or you can choose to use our website in a "self service" mode.

Our professional listing system provides a high level of detail that usually results in a "warm" call from a prospect because they know exactly what you are offering and at the outset, before they call you, they understand what you are looking for in a "Guest" tenant.

1.  WHO do you want to rent to?

Many law firms with extra offices only want to rent to other attorneys.  The primary considerations here are security requirements, client needs and lead generation for new business opportunities. On our website, in the "Listing Details" section of the expanded listing the Space Type is categorized and the listing will indicate who the listing is for.  In this case, All Professionals are welcome - other options for this field are "Attorneys Only", "Attorneys & CPA's Only", etc.

If you are dealing with high security or confidential matters you and your clients probably don't want "strangers" to have access to your space.  Our experience has been that larger law firms almost never allow "outsiders" to rent offices, and if they do it will only be in a separate private space that has been segregated from the space actually used by the firm.  Their clients would simply never allow it.  A large firm also doesn't have a need for internal lead generating options because a firm with a varied practice has plenty of intra-lawyer client exchange.

On the other hand, if you are a small law firm with 25 or fewer attorneys you have a different set of problems and needs.  Often, there is no problem with smaller firms sharing space with properly vetted "guest" attorneys, and in fact it brings a greater diversity to the types of practices under one roof.  Often, this leads to client referrals in both directions.  Some small firms are more interested in the synergy than rent from the offices - and we actually see that quite often.

2.  WHAT are you renting?  First you define the type and size of the office and then the monthly rent.

The package generally offered by sublessors or licensors starts with the offices themselves.  They are priced according to local market conditions, taking into consideration the quality of the location and building, the size of the offices, the exposures and amount of window space & natural light.  Other factors include the availability of file storage space outside the offices, the full or part time receptionist and whether in addition to "meet and greet" the Host will also provide telephone answering in your name.  Sometimes the host can provide actual phone lines as well as handsets, and integrate these with a professional VoiP phone system - where the phones are answered in your name.  Usually an established practitioner will bring their existing phone number with them and either port it into the host's system or run new service through the internet.

In all cases there has to be a conference room available for use by "sign up" as needed.  Once in awhile we see a group of lawyers renting offices together without a conference room - - - but lawyers willing to rent space without potential conference room use are few and far between.

3. WHERE are you in the market?  Your location in large part determines the basic value of your offices.  You can get an immediate advantage by scrolling through the listings on our site, after you have sorted for a specific city and neighborhood.The "search" bar is at the top of each page and you can use the drop-down menu box that says "All Neighborhoods" to fine tune the search

This is pretty self explanatory but the point is that we allow the viewer to drill down to the neighborhood level and really fine tune their search if that is what they want to do.  If you're on the border, we allow multiple entries here.

4. WHEN are the offices available for occupancy?  Most of the listings on the site are available and vacant now or in the near future.  We never see fractional office space listings further than 4-months in advance.  On the same token, most people looking for space also have an immediate need for new offices - usually between today and three months forward. 

The essential problem is that the Host on the other side would usually continue marketing their space, rather than remaining vacant (with no cash flow) for more than 2 or 3 months.  Over the years we've seen that 3 months is really the practical limit.

We try to be pretty specific about the occupancy date and term of the lease.  Here again there is somewhat of a limiting factor because shorter term sublets often require a discount because they are viewed as a diminishing asset.  A basic truth is that "lawyers don't like to move".  When we place a tenant the preference is generally to remain long term unless the economic factors provide an incentive to accept a short term along with the associated upset of moving again in less than 2 years, for example.

5. HOW do you intend to rent the space?  If you are the prime tenant you generally have two options, which will be controlled by your lease.

The choices are "sublease" or "license".  Your prime lease will generally allow subletting under specific circumstances usually relating to landlord approval of your subtenant and the business terms of the sublease.  If you happened to think about this issue in advance, you

probably were able to negotiate your option to sublease up to a specific number of offices without going through an approval process (but still having to notify the landlord) if you rented up to "X" offices to a practicing attorney in good standing.  

Alternately you might have permission to "License" up to a certain number of offices, also without approval. A license is generally a shorter document than a sublease, setting out business terms in a clear fashion showing what is included in the rent and what is expected of both the host and guest and confirming the licensee's agreement to abide by all of the terms that apply to them in the prime lease for the premises.

6. WHY are you renting?  There are 2 basic reasons:  1- Your firm has contracted and you want to generate some revenue from an empty office.  2-  Combined with #1, you are interested in synergies between attorneys with different specialties within your space.  Here the revenue generation is from a combination of rent and fee generation from new business.

In conclusion, if you are looking for space within the premises of a law firm or other professional business, we present very detailed listings from our advertisers that include all of the parameters required to help you make a good decision about renting new space.

If you have extra offices for rent, and you would like to attract appropriate professionals to join you in your space, you will find that we offer the ability to attract a specific type of prospect who will generally arrive as a "warm" lead because of the detail in your listing.

From time to time we get calls like:

"I've advertised for two months and I've only received four inquiries"

(at this point we hold our breath - but are usually pleasantly surprised because the end of the sentence turns out to be...)

"But we rented all of the offices - Thank you very much"

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