Even 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
Bad 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 major Atlanta law firm, Epstein Becker & Green has been sued by its landlord for unpaid rent for its Atlanta/Buckhead law office. While the law firm and the landlord were engaged in negotiations regarding failure to pay for legal space under the lease agreement, the law firm has been sued for failure to pay rental payments in the amount of $855,000 in back rent. Ken Menendez, the Atlanta local managing shareholder, was surprised by the filing of the lawsuit and stated, “… notwithstanding the lawsuit, we expect to work out a deal to restructure our lease.”
Epstein Becker is not the only larger law firm which has contracted during the recent recession. Other Atlanta law firms have also downsized. Epstein Becker has allowed one and one half floors of “dark space” in Resurgens Plaza, a well-known Atlanta Buckhead commercial building near Lenox Mall. Atlanta’s commercial real estate landscape has left a lot of law firms with vacant space. As a result of tenants having too much empty space, even when attempting to renegotiate with landlords, law firms risk getting sued for back rent. A sublet is an option for tenants with excessive vacant law space. Extra law office space may be subleased to lawyers seeking a turn-key law office situated in a prestigious commercial building. Smaller law firms in Atlanta are engaging in this space sharing and benefit from reduced costs.
LawSpaceMatch.com provides a simple avenue for lawyers and law firms with empty law space to sublease to lawyers in transition and seeking to sublease from lawyers. Law firms may post their empty law space on LawSpaceMatch.com for free. Lawyers seeking to share space may search by zip code or by custom criteria based on areas of practice, and other amenities such as receptionists, shared secretaries, covered parking, and rental rates for the sublease.
Perhaps during its negotiations with the landlord at Resurgens Plaza, Epstein Becker could have considered utilizing a free service and obtained a sublease, even for a short period of time, allowing a sublease for lawyers desiring the creation of a law practice within its prestigious law space within Resurgens Plaza.
Notes: Fulton Daily Report – Friday, July 1, 2011
See Also: The Need For Law Space Match, Landlords Make Room for New Tenants, Provide Relief for Existing Tenants, Atlanta’s Largest Law Firm Comes Out on Top with Strategic Cost Cutting
Atlanta lawyers are subleasing with other lawyers and entering into law space sharing arrangements. The Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct do not prohibit attorneys from sharing office space. With law firms downsizing, the empty law office space entices new lawyers into a sublet deal. Know the benefits and responsibilities.
Benefits of law space sharing include: (i) the occasional consult or assisting with certain legal issues which may arise; (ii) reduction of overhead costs; and (iii) potential referrals for legal work in each lawyers’ area of practice. While lawyers seek to share rent, copier costs, internet costs, legal research expenses, lawyers must use extra care about maintaining the confidences and secrets of clients. For instance, if the lawyers sharing law space retain a joint receptionist who performs legal tasks, she or he should be advised to maintain confidentiality of the clients and keep files for the clients in a separate work area. Ethical issues can be triggered by sloppy administrative practices. All confidential information gained in the professional relations with a client, unless the client consents after consultation are required by the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct (Rule 1.6) to be protected. The duty of confidentiality shall continue after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated (Rule 1.6(e)). So the files must be kept separate even after the case or matter is completed. The bottom line: lawyers or law firms should not fail to take adequate measures to protect the client’s confidential information of each space-sharing lawyer.
Lawyers who are dual professionals also must make clear to the public the separate nature of their legal and other businesses, and should take measures to protect client confidentiality. The dual professional may be required to keep separate phone numbers, letterhead, books, records, and files. The lawyer should take special care to keep separate the provision of law-related and legal services in order to minimize the risk that the client/customer will assume that the law-related services are legal services. (See Georgia Rule 5.7, comment (8)).
Each state may have a specific position regarding the dual professional practicing in one office. For instance, Colorado takes a stronger view, stating that it is easier to avoid confusion if the second occupation is not conducted from the legal office. The basis for Colorado’s opinion is that risks such as improper solicitation are increased when one office is used.
Whatever the commissions ultimately decide, space-sharing is an important concern for many lawyers and can be maneuvered easily if thoughtful steps are taken prior to conducting the business of law. Lawyers should always remember that the essence of the Rules of Professional Conduct is based on communication with the clients.
See Also: You Can’t Run a Law Practice from a Coffee Shop, Atlanta Lawyers Sublease Space, The Need for Law Space Match, Law Firms with Unused Offices
Even graduating third in your class from Stanford Law does not guarantee a credible position at a law firm. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor found out just this upon graduating from Stanford. Rather than accepting the legal secretarial positions that various firms offered her, she opted to start a private law practice. In order to keep costs down, Justice O’Connor opened an office in Phoenix, Arizona, and shared law space with another solo practicing lawyer. In doing this, she was able to carry on a solo practice while cutting fixed real estate costs.
Although made upon necessity in Justice O’Connor’s case, the decision to share office space with other lawyers is made by a significant amount of legal solo practitioners. The reasoning behind this decision can be brought down to pure economic principle; it benefits all involved to reduce fixed costs in an office space, and law office subletting does just this. In today’s uncertain economy, fixed costs are a large concern, and their reduction allows lawyers to dedicate more funds towards other aspects needed to improve and maintain their practice.
In addition, the sharing of law space allows young independent lawyers fresh from law school to surround themselves with like-minded solo practitioners. These co-tenants represent a source of advice, support, and potential client referrals that are essential components for the success of one just entering the field of law.
Today, these benefits are becoming increasingly more important, as the unstable economy and job market have made solo practice a more attractive, and in some instances, necessary option. Thus, a service allowing Atlanta solo practitioners to connect and share law space is something that is incredibly valuable both now and looking forward. Elaine M. Russell, a lawyer practicing corporate law in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia saw this need and created LawSpaceMatch.com. This free service allows Atlanta lawyers to quickly and easily create attorney profiles and post empty office space in all parts of Atlanta.
Notes: See Also: Law Firms with Unused Offices, You Can’t Run a Law Practice from a Coffee Shop , The Business of Law
Being a solo practitioner can sometimes be overwhelming, particularly for those who have never done it before. Among the many different decisions that a prospective solo practitioner needs to make is office space for the law firm. Because so much of the practice of law has become electronic, some solo practitioners have come to the conclusion that they can successfully practice law without dedicated office space.
However, just about anyone who has attempted this sort of arrangement will tell you, having functional and reasonably appealing office space is a very worthwhile investment. While it is true that you can work on a letter or brief from a laptop at the local coffee shop or a room at the law school or your converted garage space, these types of arrangements are typically inefficient. Functionality is the key to efficiency, and it is hard to replace a well-designed office space with reliable copying, scanning, and other equipment, high-speed internet connection, and a dedicated space you can meet with clients and potential witnesses. Nothing screams a lack of credibility to potential clients and opposing counsel more than an attorney that does not have a dedicated office address. Meeting with a client in a home-office leaves the client wondering why the attorney is not profitable enough to afford office space. Having opposing counsel send documents to a post office box opposed to an office address indicates you do not have the resources to adequately handle cases. In short, there is a reason why virtually all successful attorneys invest in adequate law office space to support their practice.
Moreover, particularly in light of the current economic trends, there is very good space to be had at a bargain. Opportunities to sub-let “Class A” space at a discount abound. And while you may not have your name over the door as a sub-tenant, you will have access to functional space, adequate equipment, and respectable surroundings. If you are planning to run a law practice, finding good Atlanta office space at a reasonable price is well worth the investment.
In 2010, Elaine M. Russell created LawSpaceMatch.com, a website dedicated to helping law firms with open office space and solo practitioners connect with each other. This free service matches lawyers seeking to sublet office space with law firms possessing unused office space across the country. Elaine is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia. Her office is located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.
Contributed by: William B. Ney
See Also: Atlanta’s March Unemployment Report Offers Hope for Region , Don’t Count On Your Real Estate Broker When You Need a Sublease of Your Office Space, Law Firms with Unused Offices
The soft real estate market in Atlanta and around other big cities across the United States has some law firms signing on to new office space. While this may seem counter-intuitive due to the continuing economic unease in the marketplace, there are many reasons why this is the perfect time to sign on to new a lease. In fact, tenants are not the only ones taking advantage of the current economic climate by taking on new commitments. Some developers are taking on new building projects while construction costs are low and subsidies can still be found.
The biggest driver behind the surge in leasing may be the fact that landlords are keenly interested in keeping their tenants. These landlords, who are often large developers, have to remain flexible to retain their clients and boost occupancy rates. With large volumes of space to lease, re-stacking of office space is becoming commonplace in large buildings. This reorganization of floor space can benefit both the landlord and the client. For existing clients who have downsized their workforce, a consolidation of space between floors can be necessary. For starters, unoccupied office space can become a financial drain on the company. Restructuring an existing lease agreement can result in a lower lease rate and/or additional perks, such as additional parking or remodeling of the new space. But there is another reality that can affect the bottom line of any organization that has cut back on personnel. It is the fact that the psychological effects of working in a vacant landscape can be devastating on the remaining employees. So the client who consolidates office space can dramatically improve the company’s bottom line, by cutting costs and by improving morale.
The landlord also benefits considerably by allowing existing tenants to consolidate space. Besides helping the tenant “right-size” into the proper space, consolidation makes room for new clients who may have very specific requirements. These requirements may include a particular view of the city, a preference for the top floor or the need to restrict elevator traffic to that space. For many companies, especially banks and law firms, real estate costs are the second highest expenditure after personnel. Making that investment wisely is important and a good landlord-tenant relationship is critical.
In 2010, Elaine M. Russell found a way to help law firms with open office space and solo law practitioners by creating www.LawSpaceMatch.com. This free service matches lawyers seeking to sublet space with unoccupied office space at compatible law firms around the country. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia. Elaine’s office is located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.
See Also: The Need for Law Space Match, Unexpected Benefits Come From Office Sharing, Atlanta Law Space Vacancies
New commercial real estate reports indicate that Atlanta office rental rates are at 2004 levels. Scott Amoson, Director of Research for Colliers International in Atlanta, states that shows some stabilization, as the rate had been steadily declining. While the outlook for landlords still appears bleak, real estate experts are hopeful that job growth will pick up and improve these rental rates. The average rental rate was $20.06 per square foot in metro-Atlanta last quarter, according to data from real estate services firm, Jones Lang LaSalle. Colliers reported a very small uptick to $19.22 per square foot. While real estate firms may include different data in determining the rates, these rates appear consistent based upon those noted in the Buckhead area. The overall vacancy rate in metro-Atlanta rose very slightly in the quarter to 22.5%, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, and to 18.3% according to Colliers; the average between these two rates is 20.4%. David Rubenstein and Bogue Miller of CresaPartners, echo other real estate pundits in determining that the minimal job growth stunts new development, which is essentially non-existent. Their report, although not terribly pessimistic, indicates that the Atlanta job market is not expected to fully recover for three (3) years. On a positive note, Rubenstein and Miller indicate that it remains a good time for tenants to renew leases or look for new space.
Law firms, while engaging into space sharing arrangements in order to reduce costs, and avoid “dark space,” are also deciding to relocate. The law firm of Thompson Hine LLP,for instance, decided to relocate from Central Perimeter in Midtown into Buckhead.
With an abundance of empty office space, due to the prior new construction “boom years,” options in current include either staying in current law space and sub-leasing or moving to a different location. Law firms are weighing these considerations and investigating the scope of landlord concessions. Vacant law office space is a burden for all those involved, and options in this market are available to tenants – move or sublease law space.
Sublease, sublease, and sublease. Atlanta attorneys are avoiding “dark space” and sharing office space with other attorneys. Subleasing law space means space that has been leased by a tenant and is being offered for lease back to the market by the tenant with lease obligation. “Dark space” is vacant space that is not currently occupied by a tenant, regardless of any lease obligation. Sharing law space is a great way to cut costs and Atlanta lawyers are seeking avenues on how to sublease law space or share empty office space with like-minded lawyers. Atlanta office vacancy showed little movement in the first quarter of 2011, thereby, Atlanta lawyers are posting and listing empty office space on www.lawspacematch.com. These lawyers are attracting law school graduates who have not yet found a job in the legal field. The law school graduates are realizing that legal jobs are hard to find and starting their legal career as a solo practitioner is the best option. Sharing law space with seasoned lawyers gives these future lawyers a forum for networking with local attorneys and opportunities for legal work which they otherwise would have no access.
The mission of www.lawspacematch.com is to assist the legal profession by creating a web site targeted for attorneys in transition and law firms with empty office space. Immediate opportunities for attorneys desiring relocation may be found with criteria-based custom searches or views by zip codes. It’s simple. And its FREE to post or search for law space. Law firms post available office space; attorneys search and find space while simultaneously posting their professional profiles on our site. www.LawSpaceMatch.com is a matching site like no other and benefits both the law firms and the attorneys by directly connecting these two parties.
Although hope remains the economy will eventually turn around, and lawyers will have an overabundance of legal work which will spur employment in the legal industry, access to the local legal community through www.lawspacematch.com is a source for networking with attorneys and seeking law space in a real estate market with a large holding pattern.
Note taken from Atlanta Journal Constitution, on Friday, May 6, 2011 :
Office space rebound still on hold
The unemployed in Atlanta may have finally breathed a small sigh of relief upon seeing the city’s March unemployment figures this week. With little variation over the last 12 months, the unemployment rate for Atlanta has been hovering between 9.7% and 10.4%. February’s rate sat at 10.2% and the March figure posted a marked improvement at 9.8 %. Metro Atlanta, as one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, continues to be hard hit by the recession with more than 260,000 unemployed. In February this year, Atlanta was the only metro area among the nation’s top 12 metropolitan regions to show a year over year net loss of jobs. With a real estate market that continues to decline and an increase in gas and food prices, this week’s unemployment report provided a bit of good news that Atlanta really needs.
The improvement translates to 8,600 jobs that were added last month, many within the hospitality, leisure and health care fields. While much of this hiring is temporary, as hotels and restaurants start to staff up for the summer season, some permanent tech jobs were added. In fact, the need for computer network designers increased by over 11% over last year and wireless telecom jobs grew by over 7%. While these statistics are encouraging, despite posting improved earnings figures, some of Atlanta’s larger corporations like Coca-Cola and UPS have yet to make any hiring announcements.
Atlanta’s residential and commercial real estate values also lag behind the national average. Home prices in the metro area fell by 5.8% between February 2010 and 2011. Together with Detroit, Las Vegas and Cleveland, Atlanta’s home values are still below 2000 levels. Overbuilding in the construction industry at the beginning of the recession hurt Atlanta more than most cities around the country. The glut in commercial real estate was made worse by job losses in the financial and legal sectors. Workforce reductions at larger institutions in these sectors created less income for property owners and caused many commercial buildings to go into foreclosure. Many institutions closed their doors, but the companies that did survive found ways to augment declining revenue. Atlanta’s legal firms that survived the initial economic downturn, for example, found ways to fill vacant office space after headcount reductions. Newly freed up Atlanta law space provided an opportunity for cash strapped independent law practitioners in need of office space.
In 2010, Elaine M. Russell found a way to help law firms with open office space and solo law practitioners by creating www.LawSpaceMatch.com. This free service matches lawyers seeking to sublease law space with unoccupied office space at compatible law firms around the country. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia. Elaine’s office is located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.
Taken from: Jobless rate slide fuels wary optimism