When it comes to office space, location, design, cost or even the need for one, solo and small firm practitioners have tremendous flexibility over their brethren in larger firms. For my part, I don’t feel compelled to be downtown near the major banks or the courthouse. In fact, my clients prefer (as do I) that my office is closer to home, without the driving, parking and other hassles that come with a downtown location. Plus, with technology, I don’t even need to be physically in my office much of the time. I can get work done, close a transaction, and communicate with clients or opposing counsel efficiently using my Treo 600 smart phone and a notebook computer with Internet access.
Will I even need an office in the near future? More and more files are used and stored electronically. Before long, most of my active files will fit on a thumb drive that I can put in my pocket. Support staff? They don’t need to see me face-to-face to receive their assignments or assist me in completing transactions. Meeting clients? Most are delighted when I offer to meet with them at their places of business. For those that need to meet me elsewhere, I don’t think I really need an exclusive conference room for only three or four meetings a month—I can share one with others. A firm library? Digital and Internet resources rule! For the rare hard-copy-only resource, I can go to the law school or county law library and let them pay the rent for housing books.
So do I still need an office? Maybe, maybe not, but I certainly need to rethink what it should look like when my lease is up for renewal in a few years.
Planning from the Ground Up
We can’t talk office location and other career planning issues without talking about the LPM Section’s (and the ABA’s) most successful publishing effort: the LPM Career Series. From the ABA’s all-time best-seller, How to Start and Build a Law Practice, now in its 5th edition, to The Legal Career Guide: From Law Student to Lawyer, in its 4th edition, the Section currently offers more than 18 books covering career issues for lawyers and law students. These insightful resources not only guide seasoned practitioners through potential rough stretches and transitions, they also provide advice and direction for law students and young lawyers just beginning their careers. No ABA entity has contributed more financial and educational support to the Law Student Division than the LPM Section has through sharing with LSD the revenues from—and valued information in—this series!
Reaching Out for Spring
The Section is making a special effort to invite actives from the past 30 years to join us in Orlando for our Spring Meeting, May 12-15, at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. So before you put down this magazine, think of two or three Section members you haven’t seen recently and ask them to join us in Orlando. Come on, how many times do you get a tax-deductible shot at Walt Disney World? If you want help in encouraging friends or associates to attend, just call me and I’ll give a friendly nudge! See page 59 for details on the terrific meetings and programs we have scheduled.
Mark A. Robertson ( firstname.lastname@example.org), Chair of the ABA Law Practice Management Section, is a member of the Oklahoma City law firm Robertson & Williams. He is also coeditor of Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour: Strategies That Work, 2nd Ed. (ABA, 2002).