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How to Start a Law Firm: Office Furniture and Supplies

The Basics

Attorneys looking to start up a firm often look for the best furniture, equipment, and supplies available so as to impress their prospective clients once the office is open. However, lawyers just starting out their careers or making a clean, fresh transition from another practice may have to be more practical in their considerations. Whether furniture and other equipment is necessary, or more of a luxury, is a determination each lawyer will have to make in the context of their budget and past experience. In essence, this is one of the first of many business decisions that a lawyer must make. After all, a beautiful and impressive mahogany or cherry wood desk might not look very useful later on should you have to cut costs on other equipment which would have made your work product better and more efficient.

Furniture: A Necessary Expense?

First of all, there's no question that any office needs furniture, but most lawyers should seriously consider obtaining used furniture for the office. These days, it is easy to find countless types of furniture being advertised online at highly discounted prices. Another option for the budget conscious is renting furniture, which will keep your costs down early on and allow upgrades later as your startup grows. You can browse through catalogs, read internet reviews, and visit some local office equipment stores to check out what's available, and then proceed to either buy or rent something comparable. The following is a short list and description of the basic necessities that any starting law office will need.

  • Desks: This will be your daily work area. It is important that that your desk not only be spacious, but functional as well. Having a desk with plenty of space on top but little drawer space will only lead to a cluttered and visually unattractive office. A desk's height in relation to the chairs in the office should be considered as well. Also, you should determine in advance whether a separate, side desk will be necessary for your computer or whether the single desk will suffice. Most lawyers tend to use every inch of desk space available, so even just a flat-screen monitor on your desk will probably not be desirable.
  • Chairs: Your chair will be your proverbial "throne" and this is one item where skimping is probably not for the best. Unless you enjoy taking calls standing or pacing, much of your work days may be spent planted at your chair. For this reason, it's imperative to go to a supply store or two and try everything they have. Some lawyers enjoy arm rests on their chairs, while others find them a nuisance. If you select a chair with rolling wheels, you will likely need a plastic floor covering to protect the floor's surface and allow for smooth rolling. Also, be sure that your chair's height in relation to your desk allows for proper leg and knee room. Finally, don't forget about your clients! Both in your office and waiting area (if applicable) they will need chairs, and they really should be at least somewhat comfortable.
  • Cabinets and Book Shelves: Depending on your office and the way it is set up, you may need cabinets and/or book shelves. The various supplies listed below will need space to be stored in, and, if you plan on having a library, it will need shelf space.
  • Trash cans, recycling basket
  • Magazine and Coat Racks: For the waiting area.
  • Lamps and Lighting Equipment
  • Staff and Co-Worker Supplies: The rest of your staff will also need most of the above items to the extent applicable. If you have worked with them previously, they will surely be keen to tell you of their respective needs. Even if you plan on hiring from scratch, you should try, within reason, to make them happy when obtaining your furniture!

Supplies and Equipment: A Checklist to Get Started

The following is a basic checklist of supplies you will probably need for your law office. You may be able to negotiate some volume discounts by contacting a local office supply store or an office supply catalog supplier. You can also potentially obtain discounts by opening an account with a particular supplier (or more than one). A law office typically requires the following:

  • Coffee machine and mugs (at the top of the list, of course)
  • Protective desk covering(s)
  • Stationery
  • Paper (regular and legal-size)
  • Legal pads
  • Envelopes
  • Supply of sticky notes
  • Pens of various colors
  • Pencils
  • Staplers
  • 2 and 3 hole punches
  • File folders
  • Rubber bands
  • Tape
  • Three ring binders
  • Staple removers
  • Scissors
  • Colored sticky tabs

The above list is certainly not all-inclusive, but are the basics which would be necessary in most offices. It is probably advisable to simply visit a nearby store, or ask your staff to select desirable supplies, as well. As with some of the items furniture above, cutting corners on supplies is not advisable because they tie in so closely to your work product. Whether it be through the Internet or at your local store, try to find the best deals on the supplies, but do get everything you need to make your office a smooth running business.

Now You Need Clients to Sit in Your New Chairs

Your bright shiny office may look great, but it won't for long if clients are not coming through the door. Get help with a marketing plan from FindLaw's Integrated Marketing Solutions.  It will help you create a comprehensive plan to target your market audience so that clients actually see all the effort you put in to furnishing your new office.

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