The productive, secure law office doesn’t need to be situated on the top floor of a skyscraper or behind the wrought iron gates of a guarded corporate compound. But every law office should have four things. If you’re shopping for a new office space to lease for your startup law firm or legal practice expansion, look for the following features as you take tours of offices for lease.
Easy Access for You and Clients
It’s best if you can lease a law office close to the main court where your cases are handled, but it’s not mandatory. If rent prices are crazy high close to government and judicial buildings, it makes more financial sense to rent an office that’s not so close to the action. Use the money you save to rent a hotel room near the court for those mornings before the really big cases.
No matter where your building is located, it should be easy for clients at all levels of physical ability to reach your door. Lease your law office in a confirmed ADA-compliant structure so you never lose a great client who also happens to have a disability. Make sure the building offers plenty of up-to-date, clear signage to guide clients to your floor.
Clients should not have to sit in hideous traffic or walk blocks to reach your front desk. Forego renting the latest upscale office suite in a trendy area where construction is clogging roads and sending dust and racket throughout the neighborhood. It’s smarter to find an office a bit farther from the city center, or even out in the suburbs, if it means your clients can pull into your building parking lot and be at your door within a minute or so.
Your law office should be easy to reach by car and by multiple modes of transportation whenever possible. Include a location map and transit schedules on your website to help new clients locate you. Maps help clients see where you are in relation to bus, train, and airport stops.
Facility Features That Work
Unless you’re handling work for billionaires, the majority of your clients don’t care how flashy and sophisticated your office space is. In fact, they may even resent a too-posh environment if they’re down-to-earth or hiring you for a wrongful-death case.
Middle-class and low-income clients expect the bathrooms and elevators to work. They expect you to have heat and air conditioning, and they want plenty of comfortable seating in the waiting and consultation rooms. Most clients don’t care if you have the latest art installation or bottled water, but they do expect bookshelves full of law tomes behind you as you’re seated at some sort of desk.
If clients need to make copies of documents, do research on the web, or show you a digital file, you should have the capability to indulge them. You should have access to secure high-speed, Wi-Fi internet to offer the most convenient device connections for all of your customers.
Secure Document and Internet Services
Whether you go paperless or you retain some physical files in your office, you need an ironclad plan for how documents are handled. It’s best to create your own workflow chart showing how each piece of paperwork is handled from start to finish through every possible outcome.
At the end of every case’s journey, three things should happen: non-vital documents must be shred or returned to the client; you should know exactly where documents are located in the cloud or your files; and there should be security measures in place to protect the case documents from unauthorized view or use.
Determine how your cloud storage and scanning duties will be managed. Provide redundancies and failsafes so that no document becomes misplaced or lost without a copy.
Structure your email and internet services so that they have a distinct barrier between public and private access. Hire your own IT staff or a firm specializing in law firm cyber-security to protect yourself and clients.
Private Consultation Spaces
Privacy is a very vital consideration in a law office. Some attorneys’ offices grow complacent about this rule and let partners gossip or leave doors open as they discuss sensitive court cases.
Don’t be that lawyer. Treat all of your clients, no matter their age or socioeconomic status, with respect. They should leave your office feeling as if their conversations with you are kept in the strictest confidence.
Achieve this level of comfort for your clients by having soundproof consultation rooms. Test the acoustics in your leased office to make certain that nosy clients in the waiting room can’t hear the sound of clients’ secrets being spilled in the consultation rooms. Have your building manager install soundproofing materials if the acoustics are an issue in your rental office.
Trust the real estate professionals at Hartman Income REIT to help you locate the perfect office suite for your new professional endeavors. We show commercial properties ranging in size from 1,000 to 10,000 square feet. Contact us when you need legal office space in the Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio regions.