Three Flavors Of Commercial Real Estate For Small and Solo Attorneys
In today's commercial real estate market, office space appropriate for a small law firm or solo practitioner comes in several distinct "flavors" - each of which have attributes that are appropriate for different kinds of attorneys.
The newest and hottest trend in the "shared office" marketplace is of course, "Coworking". This is a shared office phenomenon that has really been around for quite awhile, but most recently has been adopted by the tech world quite heavily. An old school user would call this "desk space" or "desk rental". It offers a communal approach to getting the necessities for work - but leaves something to be desired for the legal professional on several counts. Coworking space includes:
- Plug and play access
- Hourly, Daily, Monthly and Longer Term rates
- Conference rooms, reception service, shared pantry
- Welcoming environment
Coworking is a big business in both large and small cities. Some of the installations are "one off", curated by an entrepeneur, while others are large local and in some cases national chains with multiple locations. The larger organizations offer multi location memberships where you can use space in different facilities, and often in different cities. There are also various associations of office suite firms where different brands will share their space with each other so that smaller operators (who are members of the association) can offer multiple locations to their clients even thought they don't actually manage any locations beyond their primary city.
It is a beautiful, forward thinking concept that relies on a communal fortitude among its members because once you join a "flavor" of coworking suite you become a member of the tribe. Members avail themselves of new and different business relationships because of the variety of practices that can be found under one roof - and because of the proximity of everybody being in one (or several) large space(s). This is not for everyone. I repeat: This is not for everyone and in many cases will not be at all appropriate for an attorney dealing with confidential client matters, because there is very little privacy in this type of environment. Now an attorney interested in networking might benefit from this type of office environment - but if you're not planning on interfacing with a larger crowd on a daily basis, the coworking concept may not work for you, or your clients. I like it for the economy it provides compared to standard office space, and for the "cool" environment you get when a lot of tech firms fill one spot - but from a standpoint of security and privacy I don't think coworking will fit the needs of most attorneys.
The next flavor of shared space is the "Executive Office Suite", which is a more traditional type of shared office space where the practitioner gets his or her own private office and if there are any admins attached to the requirement they can have space at nearby workstations or interior office team rooms. The growth of executive office suites has been fueled by the trend on the part of urban landlords to divorce themselves of smaller tenancies, and to consolidate full floors - resulting in diminished opportunities for the small space user in many markets, particularly Manhattan. Hence, the rise of the Executive Suite.
Executive Suites offer shared amenities and sometimes shared part time services for business professionals. You can always expect to find:
- Shared reception
- Phone answering (extra charges apply in most cases)
- High speed internet
- Shared conference rooms
- Shared kitchen or pantry
- And sometimes: professional secretarial help on an hourly basis
The Executive Suite concept is largely perfect for a small or solo practice - with the most important economic variable between suites being the cost or inclusion of conference room time for the subtenant. Conference room use is the main "add-on" in most executive suites and depending on whether or not you can negotiate a base number of included hours, could tack on considerably to the monthly rent for office space.
The other aspect that sometimes bothers attorneys is the lack of identification at the front of the office. Generally an executive suite presents a "universal" appearance with no corporate identification at all. That works for some attorneys and doesn't work for others.
The last flavor of shared office space is the actual SHARED LAW OFFICE SPACE. The majority of the listings on LookingForSpace.com are shared legal office spaces where the host firm has one or more empty offices that they wish to rent to other attorneys. Very often this is expansion space for the host firm or a result of downsizing - but regardless is often an great opportunity for the small (or solo) practice to leapfrog into an instant plug and play position on an existing law office space platform that is being actively manged by someone else. This is a good thing an a fabulous reduction of day to day headaches for the "guest" firm and I advocate taking full advantage of that setup. Pay a fair rent for your sublease and along with great office space for your practice take advantage of the headache reduction resulting from lack of required oversight! Because, other than being a polite, business like neighbor, the only thing you'll be expected to do is pay your rent on time and shut off the lights when you leave (and some offices do that for you anyway!). Shared legal office space generally includes:
- Professional receptionist to meet and greet your clients
- Telephone answering (sometimes included in the rent)
- Shared conference rooms (available by appointment, included in the rent)
- Telephone system (lines + tolls additional)
- Internet (sometimes included, sometimes not, depending on the host firm's security requirements)
- Shared pantry
- Part time secretarial or paralegal help (extra)
- Use of law library
- Use of copy/scan/fax (usually coded access at a negotiated rate)
- Opportunity (network with other attorneys in the suite with the possibility of obtaining extra work from the host firm's spillover - or the possibility to obtain counsel from the host firm in an unfamiliar professional discipline.
Our listings are predominantly in law firms and executive suites that cater to or specialize in the needs of legal professionals. Occasionally we advertise "team rooms" in a multiple occupant scenario but for the most part we don't advertise coworking facilities at this time.
If your law firm has extra offices please call us at: 212.986.9100 and we'll get you started online almost immediately, so you can attract principals looking for space online to your available extra offices.