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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of July 14, 2015

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Occupancy Overhead: Is Cost the Only Consideration?

Is there one correct answer to the question of what a lawyer should pay for rent? The answer is no. Each law firm has different issues to consider and responses to those issues determine the cost and, therefore, the percentage of revenue attributable to occupancy. Averages, therefore, should not control one's decision.

There are many issues that might factor into the decision about how much to spend on rent. For example, consider answers to the following questions:

  • What is the nature of your clientele?

  • What do they expect from your office surroundings?

  • How far away are they from your office?

  • Can they get to you easily?

  • Do they come to you from diverse parts of the community? Or do a significant amount of them come to you via the Internet so that your location doesn't really matter to them?

It's the convenience of your clients that is important, not your convenience. After all, the practice of law is a personal service business, meaning that you must serve the people to whom you offer your services and that you must, among other things, be convenient for them to reach.

In addition to the questions asked for the convenience of clients, you should consider your own comfort as well. For example, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many more years do you intend to practice? The fewer the years, the more you may want to pamper yourself in your office furnishings.

  • How successful have you been?

  • Do you want to reward yourself with new surroundings?

  • Have you considered the percent of time you spend in your office compared to the percent of time you spend in your house? Lawyers often spend a great deal of money for a house but then cut corners on office space in which they might spend the bulk of their days.

These and other personal considerations should not be ignored—after, of course, giving full due to the issues of client convenience.



Occupancy Overhead: Is Cost the Only Consideration?

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