5 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up a 'Virtual' Law Office
Even though you're one of those people who works from home in the cloud and so on, there are times when you'll probably have to meet with clients or others, and for a variety of reasons, you probably don't want to meet them at your house.
Enter the "virtual office," which allows you to rent more or less an office and conference room for a few hours so that you can meet with people. It's a neat idea: You don't have to shell out for an office rental, but you have a professional meeting space when you need it.
If you're going this route, however, don't make the following mistakes:
1. Using Your 'Home Office' as a Professional Meeting Space.
Perhaps your first mistake is not having a virtual office space in the first place. No, you really don't want clients coming to your house. For one, your home office in the garage or spare bedroom isn't really equipped for that. For another, it's not always a good idea for clients to know where you live. No, Starbucks is not a conference room. It's irritating to the other people there, and your confidentiality won't be guaranteed. Spend the cash to rent a professional meeting place for a few hours.
2. Make It Accessible.
The location of a virtual office can't be an impediment to meeting you. If you're in the 'burbs, make sure your office has plenty of parking, because there's nothing angrier than a suburbanite who can't find parking. If you're in the city, then obviously no one is going to drive to see you -- but they will be taking public transportation, so your office can't be too far away from a bus stop or subway line.
3. Is This a Law Office or a Rumpus Room?
Many of these office spaces are shared with others who are also solos in other fields. If your office is full of tech startup programmer types, is that the image you want to convey to your clients? There are actually office shares specifically for lawyers, like this one in New York called Law Firm Suites. It lets a client know, "Hey, this is a law office, not Google."
4. I Can Still Hear You.
Open-plan office and meeting room shares are all the rage these days, but confidentiality is also in vogue. It's not enough to have an area that set's apart from the rest of the space: You need walls and a door that can close to ensure client confidentiality.
5. Don't Buy What You Don't Need.
It's tempting to go in for full packages of things -- after all, these people know more about running offices than you do, right? -- but often many of these services will go unused. Email? You can do that yourself. Phone? Again, Google Voice is free. Fax machines? Yeah, no: It's cheaper either to scan-and-email, or if you must have a fax machine, there are online services that can handle that without you having to buy a fax machine.
Know of any other mistakes to avoid when setting up a "virtual" law office? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).
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