Have an impressive office? Now you can share it in Google Places. No, I’m not talking about merely claiming your profile here. I’m talking about literally providing a 360 degree tour of your office. That’s the ambitious goal of Google’s new Business Photos pilot program:

Bring your business to life with a 360-degree, interactive tour. Showcase all the details that your customers love. Perfect for restaurants, retail shops, gyms, salons, and more!

Your customers can walk around, explore, and interact with your business like never before. Customers will be able to truly experience your business – just like being there!

Not only will these images appear on Google searches, Google Maps, and Google Places, but you can easily embed these images on your own website, social media pages, and more!

Clearly, the program is designed for businesses where how the “insides” look matters. And I’m sure there will be many who think this is a terrible idea for law firms. And for many law firms, it might just be a terrible idea. For better or for worse, what people see when they look for you online might just matter to them. Even those people that heard about you via word-of-mouth.

Here’s a recent example I came across (h/t: Dan Goldstein) for a Dentist’s office in Denver:

And when you click “see inside” you’re taken to an interactive 360-degree tour of the office:

These images don’t really do justice to the technology. Obviously, these listings really stand out on Google search results.

To get started, you need to contact one of Google’s trusted photographers in your area.

However, before you rush off to sign-up, you should spend some time thinking about the psychological impact of having your office on display for all the different people who might see it. Sure, you might think that being more transparent about your practice can only be a good thing.

But take a harder look. Are you organized? What are all the possible perceptions people might have about it? And don’t limit your consideration solely to prospective clients. How might seeing the inside of your office impact a judge? Or a juror?

You’ll also want to be careful to protect client confidences. Don’t leave anything identifiable client “stuff” out in the open to get plastered onto the first page of Google.

As more and more of our offline world goes online, we need to be conscientious of the potential consequences. This is not to instill fear, nor to convince you to hide the facts of your practice. I imagine that for many law firms, this will be seen as a competitive advantage over less experienced, or less established firms.

Whether how your office appears should have any bearing on your ability to serve your clients is a matter for another discussion. Like it or not, it will matter, at least to some people who see it. But then again, they’re likely to have to see it at some point, so perhaps you’re better off displaying it from the get go.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glenpooh/708598479/)