Don't Be Afraid to Keep Things Moving

Published on: 
12/07/2011
Lawyers are increasingly at home with the revolutionary way that the Internet changes how they interact with clients.

The most familiar form of the revolution is using the web as a communication tool with everything from websites and blawgs to client updates and webinars. Clients can be contacted instantaneously for anything from a quick question to a document review through texting and old-fashioned email, all of which are well established and will continue to grow.

Yet most clients still expect a lawyer to have a physical office, and office space and related amenities speak loudly and clearly to clients about the firm itself.

Lawyers certainly share in those expectations and often are on the lookout for better space, either because they are dissatisfied with their existing surroundings or they're looking to make a move to a location that offers more expansion room and client convenience.

Those are valid reasons, but what if an attorney moves two, three or more times in the course of several years? Aside from the physical demands of the moving process, what will clients think of a lawyer whose location changes that frequently? Can the lawyer be viewed as flighty, indecisive — even unreliable?

My view is that lawyers should move until they're satisfied. I disagree that multiple moves make you appear flighty as a lawyer, as long as you can put a positive spin on the rationale, such as more space, greater convenience for clients, additional services or more attorneys who practice in other areas that will benefit your clients through referrals.

And, yes, be more discriminating when you select your next space, even if it costs you a few dollars more. In both the short and long run, you'll be happier, your clients will be better served, and you will be a more accomplished practitioner. Also, your referral base can grow by enabling you to know more, and better, lawyers in your new location.

When you decide to move, analyze it through three lenses: the reasons to move, the factors for selecting your new location, and what you must do to build out the new facility.

Such perspective is essential to understand new office space in terms of what you expect in revenues, what you can afford, and what direction you want your practice to take in the right physical environment where you spend most of your waking time.

Make sure that the up-front expense of getting from point A (old office) to point B (new office) is worth it in order to realize greater potential future income.

Make sure also that you are wholehearted about your move. Don't let lingering "flighty" worries lead you to try to sneak into a new building by just putting a line in your email signature that, as of such a date, you will be in a new location.

Inform everyone about your move; not just clients, but financial institutions, insurance carriers, bar associations and courts, vendors, utilities, landlords, taxing authorities, the local legal media and the postal service. To do otherwise will cause you problems and forfeit a great marketing opportunity.

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