Starting A Solo Law Firm Without An Office

“Alright let’s meet in the McDonald’s parking lot in Windsor to sign documents”.

“Sure I can drive to your home in Putnam for a meeting”.

“How about Plaza Azteca on the Berlin Turnpike”.

When I started my journey in self employment as a lawyer I didn’t have an office. I didn’t have an office for 3.5 months. Then water from a condo above flooded our office. I was again out of an office for a month.

Life on the road.

Working from a coffee shop.
Working from a coffee shop.

I’m often asked “I’d like to keep overhead low, can I start my practice without an office”. To this question my answer is “yes”. And in today’s world there are some practices that can be run remotely from anywhere in the world. My practice of representing people in court is not one of those practices.

On the plus side, not having an office saves you a major expense while you are starting up.

The flipside of that is that is was very inefficient for me. ¬†First, I had to drive. A lot. A whole lot. I drove to meet with clients in their homes. I drove all over the place. When you are driving you are not writing briefs. You are not balancing your books. You are not creating forms. You are not marketing. You are driving. There’s a cost to all of this driving.

Put a dollar value on your time. The time it takes you to do everything. Including driving from place to place.

It is far more efficient to book 3 client meetings in an afternoon in your office than it is to drive from place to place.

Second, when I started I did some real estate closings. In order to do real estate closings, the title company required that I have a physical office. Not temporary space. Not having an office cost me closings. This may or may not matter to you.

I also have young children. Working from home when they are home is near impossible. So I’d spend time at Starbucks. Again cost.

There may also be an issue attracting clients. Some folks think that successful lawyers have offices. Others think that smart lawyers are mobile, lean, and tech savvy and an office is a waste of resources. Know your client market.

Then there’s certified mail and FedEx. These packages and letters get delivered during the day when you’re busy driving. So you have to try and chase these important packages and letters. You’ll be making extra trips to the post office.

Another thing to consider is your rent is a pre-tax business expense. It is unlike your residential rent. Say your tax rate is 33%. To pay $900 a month in residential rent or a mortgage you have to earn $1200. If you pay $900 a month in commercial rent you have to earn $900. And it is deductible.  ***I am not a tax lawyer and this is in no way tax advice. You need a good accountant.

All things being equal, assuming you need an office, you should get one as soon as you can. The benefits are many. Ideally you’d move into an office share with other lawyers or in the very least a building with other firms. Your neighbors can be great sources of business and advice. Things you may miss out on if you don’t have an office

Ryan McKeen is a trial attorney at Connecticut Trial Firm, LLC in Glastonbury, Connecticut. In 2016, he was honored by the CT Personal Injury Hall of Fame for securing one of the highest settlements in the state. He is a New Leader in the Law. ABA 100. Avvo 10. 40 under 40 for Hartford Business Journal. He has been quoted in Time Magazine, the New York Times, Hartford Courant, Wall Street Journal Law Blog and the Hartford Business Journal. He focuses his practice on Connecticut Personal Injury law. He loves what he does. Contact him ryan@cttrialfirm.com or 860 471 8333