Opening a Law Office

The need for a physical office is far from new advice here at Lawyerist. In fact, it’s one of the most common pieces of advice when starting a law firm. Nonetheless, we’ve been using a PO Box and our apartments for all this time. Now that we are finally opening a physical law office I’ve realized that it’s quite an undertaking.

You can discuss The Shingle Life in the comments, in the LAB, or on Twitter using the hashtag #shinglelife.

The Furniture

The most obvious furniture barely needs to go on a list. A desk and a chair are the bare necessities. But if you don’t want the bare minimum, there are other things to consider:

  • Chairs for visitors in the reception area
  • Chairs for the conference room
  • Conference room table
  • Pictures to hang
  • Bookshelves
  • Filing cabinets
  • Desk lamp

We lucked out. Our office has a private conference room, but it’s already furnished. As for desks, we’ve found some good deals on Craigslist. I’ve got a traditional wooden desk and then a standing desk for my computer. My partner is staying traditional with a nice wooden desk.

The Digital Presence

The purpose of having an office is so your firm has a physical presence. But a digital presence matters to some extent, and it’s tied to the new office. Make sure to update the address on your website, and keep a record of it. If you’ve been waiting to set up a Google+ page, as we have, now is a perfect opportunity.

Everything Else

Pennsylvania, like many states, has an online attorney directory. Attorneys are required to report their current address, so make sure to check and see if your state has a similar requirement. At the same time consider setting up some mail forwarding from your previous address.

We are currently shopping for renters’ insurance. Our office is down a flight of stairs, and there are valuables that could be damaged in a flood/fire/break in, so we want to be covered. It’s not very expensive at all. We will probably pay less than $150 annually for enough insurance to cover our furniture and computers, as well as most injuries.

Finally, we decided to order new business cards, but only because we were almost out of our current supply.

Is there anything I missed? Let’s hear about when you set up your first office (or your plans to do so).

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  • Lindsey Drake

    I was given or scrounged most of my furniture from family, friends, retiring attorneys, and my landlady who was cleaning out an office.

    I saw an instant spike in calls when I listed my physical address on directories, websites, and referral sources. As in, one consult for the prior two weeks, 3 new consults the following week and business increases steadily. I chose a location in the middle of three large residential areas with different economic demographics. I have middle class, upper middle class, retirees, new families, singles, blue collar, white collar, service, professionals. And since I’m somewhat close to home or on the way, morning and later afternoon appointments are easy to fill.

    I’m not close to downtown and the courthouse, but most of my clients never see the courthouse or only see it once for final hearings. I love it and it’s perfect for what I want to do.

  • shg

    When I opened my first office, I had the good fortune to be a block off Canal Street in Manhattan, where there were a bunch of used furniture stores. Through some judicious shopping, I was able to pick up some pretty decent looking stuff, from desk to client chairs to file cabs and bookcases. You would be amazed at the great used stuff available. It served its purpose well, and was very inexpensive. I did buy a new desk chair for myself, as I refused to use a chair with someone else’s buttprint permanently fixed where mine ought to be.

    Over time, I replaced my furniture with antiques, more to my taste, based upon the premise that it conveyed better who I was (no jokes, please) and, since I was spending a great deal of my life in the office, I should surround myself with things that made me happy and comfortable.

    • Most of our best furniture has come from the thrift store. My office is also covered in antiques.

      • Yeah, Leo has told us all about your sense of “style.”

  • Sunny Omoragbon

    My experience, when I set up my own office for the first time is remarkably different from those that I have read on this blog. Firstly, I am in Lagos, Nigeria, where most of what you guys take for granted are luxuries here. However, the challenge was thrilling and gave me a sense of being busy doing what I actually chose to do in life. I bought all my furniture new, except my receptionist’s desk, which was donated by a friend. On the whole, it was worth my while.