Monthly Archives: September 2011

Lawyers: Don’t Sign a Long Term Lease – Sublease space instead

saving-money.jpgEven lawyers are having a hard time finding a job in these economic times. And solo practitioners are hesitant before signing a long term lease usually requiring a personal guaranty. The good news is attorneys are sharing space and simultaneously saving money and improving business. There are many benefits of sharing law space. The cooperative spirit of a group of attorneys who practice with each other is invaluable. Water cooler discussions lead to the exchange of valuable expertise with other lawyers and perhaps even a referral for a case or work project. This does not occur when an attorney practices law from home or a coffee shop.
Another benefit of sharing law space is creating a better image in the eyes of clients. Attorneys are forming associations when they share space and link they names on the letterhead. They are setting themselves out as attorneys who are part of a law firm, even though they are neither partners nor sharing profits. Instead these lawyers are sharing expenses and saving money. While there are State Bar rules governing the representation of a law firm where the lawyers are space sharing, the bottom line of disclosure to the client may be easily addressed in the retainer agreement. The retainer agreement with the client should clearly indicate that the lawyer is a professional corporation, a limited liability company or solo practitioner, and he or she is not an associate or partner of a law firm. (Each state has varying rules so check the State Bar for further reference). These guidelines may be easily met. Expansive letterhead of the association of lawyers sharing office space may show a client a more impressive image and office space than any one single lawyer could afford on her own.
Expenses of copy machines and other office equipment are much less burdensome when costs are divided among space sharing lawyers. The bottom line: an attorney may receive more for office rental dollars. Everything from water to paper may be shared and as long as there is a clearly written space sharing agreement, the arrangement adds prestige and cost savings. Attorneys are not signing long term leases; instead space sharing is a beneficial and prevalent concept. Of course, choosing with whom you wish to share office space is an individual choice and should be closely examined.
In 2010, Elaine M. Russell created www.lawspacematch.com, a service that matches lawyers seeking to sublet space with unoccupied office space at compatible law firms around the country. Law office space and attorney profiles may be viewed at www.lawspacematch.com. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia and has an office located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.
See Also: A Resolution for Student Debt?, , Law Firms – Don’t Use Your Empty Office Space for Storage – It’s a Waste

July Brings Unemployment Claims for Georgia Lawyers

unemployed lawyer.jpgBad news for lawyers. Unemployment rose in July, 2011 for Georgia lawyers and support staff. Last month 54 lawyers and 176 support staff in private practice filed for initial unemployment benefits according to the Georgia Department of Labor. Lawyers are feeling the pinch with a 17% increase in unemployment filings. Regarding legal support staff, a 12% increase in unemployment occurred in comparison to the 157 people who filed unemployment claims in June.
A total of 230 Georgia legal industry workers filed claims in July. This is a 13% increase from June. These claims fall slightly shortly than the highest total claims filed since April (234 lawyers and staff filed claims). Legal workers are flocking to the Georgia Department of Labor for relief and these increased filings note the highest total number of monthly claims filed this year.
The good news is that although July unemployment claims increased in June, the total claims filed by Georgia lawyers and staff for 2011 have decreased compared to 2010. Claims by lawyers in 2011 are down 13%, as compared to claims filed in 2010.
Nationally, 1.1 million people in the legal services industry were without employment in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Legal industry layoffs increased by 1% the month, when compared to July 2010.
While some legal firms have survived the initial economic downturn, the unemployment rate for Atlanta is still hovering between 9.7% and 10.4%. These recently unemployed lawyers may decide hanging their own shingle in hopes for the best. Benefits may merely include reduced costs of operating a law practice, especially in a legal community where jobs are scarce. By avoiding overhead costs and startup of law practice, lawyers can find unexpected benefits from office sharing. Advantages of attorneys sharing office space include sharing common expenses including maintaining support personnel, as well as providing the phone system and maintaining office equipment. Other benefits include daily contact with other lawyers who may provide a valuable opportunity to network, in addition to the assistance of more experienced lawyers in your law practice down the hall. Subleasing law offices from an existing firm provides an opportunity for these unemployed lawyers (and their legal staff) that appears mutually beneficial in light of the surplus office space available in Georgia.
In 2010, Elaine M. Russell created www.lawspacematch.com, a service that matches lawyers seeking to sublet space with unoccupied office space at compatible law firms around the country. This law office space and other Atlanta law office may be viewed at www.lawspacematch.com. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia and has an office located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.
Notes: The Fulton Daily Report, August 31, 2011.
See Also: The Business of Law, Law Firms with Unused Space

A Resolution for Student Debt?

student-debt.jpgDebt. It is a word that strikes fear into every law students heart, and is an ever growing issue for post-graduates. Recently, the Young Lawyer’s Division’s 111A Report reported that educational debt, which is almost exclusively incurred by young college and graduate students, has exceeded credit card debt in the United States. This is mainly because college and graduate school tuition has risen at a continuous rate throughout the past 30 years in the US.
In response to this growing issue, the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division proposed two Resolutions; one, Resolution 111A is aimed at providing financial assistance for those students in extreme debt, while the other, Resolution 111B, is geared towards getting Law Schools to provide more transparent reports on job prospects and median salary figures.
As proposed, Resolution 111A seeks to extend federal student loan repayment terms and programs to those students burdened with excessive financial debt due to education. It also calls for programs that give income-based repayment options and loan forgiveness programs. Finally, it calls for a decrease or complete elimination of income levels associated with the federal income tax deduction for interest paid on student loans.
Another factor in student’s debt is their initial misconception of job prospects and beginning income upon graduation; this information is key to making the decision to initially delve into debt, as a high perceived return will encourage students to paying more initially, as they figure it can be made back relatively quickly. Unfortunately, figures published by law schools pertaining to this matter are frequently misleading. In fact, according to a National Association for Law Placement (NALP) report, 8.7 percent of the class of 2009 was unemployed (based on the 36,046 employed graduates out of 40,833 for whom employment status was known). Resolution 111B seeks to address this disconnection between perception and reality by requiring law schools to explain their numbers more clearly by stating how many of these jobs are permanent and how many are temporary (less than 1 year). In addition, the resolution calls for law schools to communicate the cost of living post graduation and while attending law school.
While both of these resolutions have been passed, debt is still a serious issue facing law students. One of the biggest costs a new lawyer faces upon beginning his or her practice is the cost of real estate. In 2010, Elaine Russell, a lawyer operating in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, created LawSpaceMatch.com to help address this issue. This free service allows firms with open office space to quickly and easily post their openings and get into contact with solo practitioners who are in need of this space. This subleasing opportunity allows newly minted lawyers to cut down on a large cost, easing their already-prominent burden of debt.
Reference Article: ABA Adresses Law Graduate’s Job, Debt Woes
See Also: Job Outsourcing: What Does it Mean for the Legal Profession?, Lawyers Sharing Space: Benefits and Responsibilities,