Solo Newsletter

Volume 11, no. 4

What Your Wallpaper Says About You

By jennifer j. rose

Some lawyers’ offices are so boring: wall art suitable for a Motel 6, neutral colors, and sensible carpet. Only the screensaver on the computer monitor delivers any sense of excitement. It’s as if they are afraid that their office décor might offend, and they’re taking no chances. Is your office nothing more than a dull beige cube or something that’s attractive for you and your staff and a place where clients feel comfortable?

Feng shui, the study of harmony and prosperity, shouldn’t stop at the entrance to your home. It’s just as important in the law office where we spend most of our waking hours. Get rid of the clutter, reposition your desk, and bring some plant life and water into your surroundings. Water? It’s a powerful symbol of money, and a small fountain, aquarium, or even something reminiscent of water will do the trick.

Your clients—and even opposing counsel—draw certain conclusions from the decorating style of your office. Does it tell them that your firm is old money, cutting edge, traditionalist, blue collar, or New Age? What kind of lawyer do you want the world to think you are? More importantly, who do you think you are?

Is your reception room a comfortable waiting area, stocked with interesting magazines? Do those magazines reflect your attitudes and interests, or are they as safely generic as Reader’s Digest? Is the reading material something your clients might be interested in, or is it intended to display your own level of intellectual ambition?

Bringing touches from home is more than simply a photograph of the loved ones on your desk. Artifacts of outside interests show clients that you’re a well-rounded individual with a life beyond the law. Even a lawyer with no life outside the office can bring in a splash of color, a painting, a display of knick-knacks.

In my own office, it’s very important that I have something to focus my attention upon, whether I’m on the phone or looking straight at a client. Over the years, that item has varied from a piece of pottery to a poster from the Spanish tourism office to a Zalce lithograph of a woman’s head in a cage. And when I realized that those pieces created all sorts of centering thoughts for me, I sat down in the client’s chair to see what the view looked like from that perspective. And made some changes in the wall décor behind my own chair. Maybe it’s time for you to make some changes in your office environment, too.

jennifer j. rose, editor-in-chief of GPSolo, enjoys the views in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. She can be reached at jenniferrose@abanet.org.

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