Category Archives: Law Firms with Unused Offices

Persistence of the Economic Downturn Forces a New Legal Landscape

downtown_atlanta_usa.jpgThe past few years have brought significant changes to the legal industry in the US. The recession has forced law firms to reduce costs to stay in business. Just behind reducing staff, cutting back on real estate ranks second in efforts to creating cost efficiencies for most firms. For larger firms, the reduction in office space leased can contribute large savings to the bottom line over many years. But, not all firms have million dollar real estate agreements. Smaller firms are relying on a new way of doing business to survive. And eventually, as opportunities to reduce overhead diminish, even the largest firms will be forced to adapt.
As the economy faltered, relationships between law firms and their clients began to change. Many clients were no longer willing or able to pay top dollar for routine legal activities. Cost is king in the new legal landscape of the recession and many clients are now interested in different types of arrangements to obtain the legal counsel needed. Bartering services, for example, so that no money changes hands between parties, is becoming more common. Clients may be unable to pay for legal services, but the need for these services has not diminished.
This situation is similar to what the healthcare industry suffered in the US as the recession of the 1990s took hold. Patients, unable to pay, still showed up at hospitals in need of urgent care. As the recession deepened, premium healthcare providers were not able to continue with pricing that excluded the bulk of the US population. The result was a shift in how healthcare is managed and obtained. With changes to insurance, individuals were asked to manage their own care as cost was assigned to these individuals. For some underinsured patients, the only solution is to look for healthcare overseas, where costs savings of 30% or more can be founds.
This may be where the legal industry is headed. When the economy was strong, the cost of healthcare and legal services was never questioned. These were must-haves, at any cost. As the economic downturn persists, cutting legal expenditures is on the hit list, even for the largest corporations. Web-based legal services and cookie-cutter programs can help companies and individuals defray legal expenses. But, just as with healthcare, the long-term effects of this strategy may backfire on even the most conscientious consumers.
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. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia. Elaine’s office is located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.
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Taken from: The legal industry’s changing environment: Permanent or temporary?

Lawyers Avoid Ethical Issues While Office Sharing -Follow Proper Policy and Procedures

201593_downtown_atlanta_usa.jpgMany attorneys currently find themselves practicing law on their own after cutbacks by law firms all over the country. For these attorneys, office sharing provides distinct advantages. Solo-practitioners can improve their own branding by locating their office within an established law office. This strategy not only affords the solo-practitioner the opportunity to piggy-back off the image created by the established firm, but it also allows the attorney to reduce the costs that come with establishing a new practice. Law firms with excess space to rent benefit by sharing costs and both sides can improve revenue by offering clients a broader range of legal services under one roof.
The tough economic climate has created an opportunity for all parties. But with this opportunity comes a certain level of risk. While sharing law office space is not forbidden under ethics rules, care must be taken to avoid potential conflicts. These conflicts revolve mainly around client confidentiality. Proper signage within the offices is required, so that clients can see that the practices are independently operated. Utilizing joint letterhead or listing unaffiliated attorneys on common signs can mislead clients regarding the association between lawyers in the office space. Additionally, telephone answering services should separately handle each practice.
Fortunately, these items are easily managed. In fact, many low-tech and high-tech solutions are available to attorneys sharing space. For example, confidentiality can be ensured through the proper storage of client files. Keeping files separate and filing cabinets locked is a simple low-tech solution. Additionally, conversation with the client can be handled discretely by holding all face-to-face meetings behind closed doors, either in an individual office or a conference room. High-tech solutions can also be implemented. Electronic placards, easily updated for changes in personnel, can separately list attorneys in an office and phone systems can be customized to accommodate different users within the space. These types of simple solutions ensure that all parties follow ethical practices.
Atlanta law space sharing is a viable option for reducing costs and is efficient. Law firms are now seeking attorneys desiring shared space: “Come share our fully furnished office space in Downtown Atlanta with a great view of Peachtree Street!”, noted by a small AV-Rated Law Firm located in the well-known Candler Building. We have one large partner’s office available to sublet as well as another office with space for support staff. For instance, quality commercial office space in Downtown Atlanta can be tough to find but we’re here to help. This option is highly flexible so you can usually rent as much or as little space as you need to suit your needs.
Privacy for each subletting lawyer and for confidential information of clients may be maintained by thinking through the practicalities of your everyday law practice. Downtown Atlanta cubicle space is the workspace option for you if you want to save money on office costs.
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 be veiwed at www.lawspacematch.com. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia. Elaine’s office is located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.

The Ethics of Legal Office Sharing Arrangements or Subleasing

4 Simple Tips to Keeping it Clean:
The benefits of legal office sharing arrangements or subleasing are highly valuable: Money savings, camaraderie, and availability of professional consultation. The legal ethics are highly important, yet simple. Here are four simple tips for keeping your legal office sharing arrangement or subleasing in line with your state’s ethics rules.
1. Maintain Appearance of Professional Independence. Make it crystal clear to the public that you are independent lawyers, not a firm. Never imply otherwise on your letterhead, business cards, office signage, and directory listings; when answering the phone; or in fee agreement. (ABA Model Rule 7.5) For example, the receptionist should answer the telephone, “Law Offices,” not “Smith and Jones Law Offices.” And, your letterhead should read, “Smith Law Office” while your office mate’s letterhead should read, “Jones Law Office,” not “Smith and Jones Law Offices.” (Example of state ethics rule: Georgia Rule 7.5)
2. Maintain Absolute Confidentiality. Keep your client files absolutely confidential. This means separate staff, files, computers, telephones, and fax. Confidences must not be shared. For example, you can share a receptionist if she does not have access to your client information. (Example of state ethics rule: Georgia Rule 1.6)
3. Avoid Even the Appearance of Conflict. Do not contemporaneously represent clients with adverse interests to those of your office mates. (ABA Model Rule 1.10) For example, if your office mate is representing adoptive parents in an adoption, don’t represent the birth mother. Just keep it clean. (Example of state ethics rule: Georgia Rule 1.7)
4. You Can Share Fees. Follow normal co-counsel and fee sharing ethics rules (ABA Model Rule 1.5). Either allocate fees based on services provided or one lawyer assumes responsibility for the case and the client consents to fee sharing in writing. For example, Lawyer Smith does 40% of the legal work and receives 40% of the legal fees and Lawyer Jones does 60% of the legal work and receives 60% of the legal fees. (For example of states ethics rule: Georgia Rule 1.5)
These 4 tips for keeping it clean in legal office sharing arrangements or subleasing are meant to raise the red flag of awareness. Be sure to consult your state’s ethics rules for specific guidance and examples specific to your state for your legal office sharing arrangement or subleasing.

Law Firms – Don’t Use Your Empty Offices For Storage – It’s a Waste

Law firm and empty offices – this is the norm now. Don’t make your empty law offices storage depots. Empty law offices mean lost cash-flow. If your firm is using empty offices to store old files, office supplies or furniture, your law firm is in a lose-lose situation. Simply, you are paying a certain amount of dollars per square foot to your landlord or to your mortgage holder for this space (if you own it). Sadly, there is little relief in the near future with this economy. Deal with your surplus space–subleasing and space sharing is your answer.
Advertising the surplus space has not worked. Where are viable subtenants? Because your law firm administrator may not necessarily have the experience of advertising surplus space or seeking compatible attorneys for subleasing, the file boxes, furniture and excess equipment continue to fill the surplus offices of your law firm. The answer is subleasing. Subleasing will mitigate the loss from surplus space. Your solution is to go to www.LawSpaceMatch.com where you will be able to quickly post your empty law offices where an attorney searching the web by his or her desired zip code, will find your post quickly and easily. Don’t miss out. Post your empty offices on www.LawSpaceMatch.com for a reasonable fee. Lawyers seeking a turn-key law office will contact you after locating your office through a detailed zip code search.
Print advertising is expensive, and it has not worked for you because it does not reach the target market at the time you need to fill your space. The internet is your inexpensive solution. Let www.LawSpaceMatch.com do the work for you…not your law firm administrator, managing partner, or an uninterested real estate broker. Move your files and furniture out of your unused offices today. Sublet or share unused space with lawyers seeking an office in your zip code.