The following members have been appointed to serve as the Nominating Committee for the FY2010 bar year: Alan Olson (chair) and members N. Kay Bridger-Riley, Jennifer Rymell, Stephen Rosales, and David Lefton.
The Nominating Committee will meet during the 2009 Fall Meeting in Los Angeles, October 15–17, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel to nominate individuals for the positions of Division vice chair, secretary, and members-at-large of the Council. In accordance with section 4.4 of the bylaws, the committee will nominate five council members-at-large to serve four-year terms. Minority applicants are encouraged. The duties, terms of office, and eligibility requirements for each of the positions to be filled are outlined in the Division bylaws.
Please return your completed questionnaire to the Division Office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax at 312-988-5711 or mail directly to ABA, General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division, 321 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654. It must be postmarked by Thursday, October 1, 2009 .
The Virtual Office: A Small Firm’s Gateway to Growth
By Guillermo Rotman
For solo practitioners, image is everything, and finding a way to establish the image that your practice needs in order to thrive and grow doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition.
Traditionally, solos have had two choices when deciding where to set up shop: turn a spare bedroom at home into an office or lease commercial office space.
Unfortunately, neither option presents a particularly attractive business case. Although convenient and cost-effective, the home office can be wrought with distractions such as kids and pets. They are not the most conducive place to host important client meetings or depositions.
Leasing commercial space can be expensive and often risky, not to mention the time and energy required to find a suitable office, negotiate the lease terms, purchase furnishings and equipment, hire office staff and services, and so forth.
For years, many small practices have wrestled with these challenges. Many are surprised to find that there is another way.
The Best of Both Worlds
A virtual office can be a powerful tool for small firms that want to limit their start-up costs and establish themselves alongside larger competitors. For a fraction of the cost required to set up and maintain a full-time office, solo practitioners can use virtual offices to create a more professional image, enhance productivity, and offer service in new markets.
Essentially, a virtual office acts as an extension of your practice’s physical presence. While you continue to work at home or at your current office, an assistant at the “virtual” location handles incoming calls answering them in the business’s name, and receives and forwards mail and faxes.
A virtual office gives you a prestigious business address and local phone number, which can make a positive impression on potential clients. For example, The Regus Group, the world’s largest provider of workplace solutions, boasts a worldwide network of more than 1,000 business centers in 450 cities worldwide. All of the centers are located in first-class office buildings like the Chrysler Building, the John Hancock Center, Spear Tower, and the Crescent Center in key business districts, and you could establish a virtual office at any of them.
Virtual offices can also be used as a tool to test and enter new markets. If a market is not as successful as initially planned, the investment and risk exposure is minimal. Consequently if the market is successful, the practice has gained an immediate presence in a viable market.
Meetings Rooms and Videoconferencing Too
All of these benefits are great, but what happens when your customer asks to visit the office or you need to hold a meeting with the client? Some providers such as The Regus Group provide virtual office clients the use of furnished offices or meeting rooms at their virtual office location for a set number of days every month. And if you require additional meeting room time, they are available by the hour at very cost-effective rates.
In addition to on-demand meeting rooms, videoconferencing can also be a great tool for the solo firm. The Regus Group, which has experienced nearly 40 percent growth in its videoconferencing business in recent years, operates the world’s largest network of publicly available videoconferencing studios. Much of the increased demand in videoconferencing has come from those in the legal profession seeking more efficient, professional, and cost-effective ways to do business, such as holding client meetings or conducting depositions.
In terms of tangible amenities like Fortune 500 corporate-style meeting rooms and the latest in videoconferencing technology, the virtual office is anything but “virtual.”
The flexibility of the virtual office opens a new realm of possibilities for solo practitioners seeking to grow their firms. With no long-term contracts, small firms can be more agile in the marketplace. Free from the high costs and constraints of traditional real estate, the virtual office just may be your gateway to growth.
Guillermo Rotman is CEO of The Regus Group Americas. Regus offers a full range of fully furnished and equipped offices, meeting rooms, business lounges, videoconferencing facilities, and supporting services. For information on workplace resources visit www.regus.com for more information.