The Ethics of Legal Office Sharing Arrangements or Subleasing

4 Simple Tips to Keeping it Clean:

The benefits of legal office sharing arrangements or subleasing are highly valuable: Money savings, camaraderie, and availability of professional consultation. The legal ethics are highly important, yet simple. Here are four simple tips for keeping your legal office sharing arrangement or subleasing in line with your state's ethics rules.

1. Maintain Appearance of Professional Independence. Make it crystal clear to the public that you are independent lawyers, not a firm. Never imply otherwise on your letterhead, business cards, office signage, and directory listings; when answering the phone; or in fee agreement. (ABA Model Rule 7.5) For example, the receptionist should answer the telephone, "Law Offices," not "Smith and Jones Law Offices." And, your letterhead should read, "Smith Law Office" while your office mate's letterhead should read, "Jones Law Office," not "Smith and Jones Law Offices." (Example of state ethics rule: Georgia Rule 7.5)

2. Maintain Absolute Confidentiality. Keep your client files absolutely confidential. This means separate staff, files, computers, telephones, and fax. Confidences must not be shared. For example, you can share a receptionist if she does not have access to your client information. (Example of state ethics rule: Georgia Rule 1.6)

3. Avoid Even the Appearance of Conflict. Do not contemporaneously represent clients with adverse interests to those of your office mates. (ABA Model Rule 1.10) For example, if your office mate is representing adoptive parents in an adoption, don't represent the birth mother. Just keep it clean. (Example of state ethics rule: Georgia Rule 1.7)

4. You Can Share Fees. Follow normal co-counsel and fee sharing ethics rules (ABA Model Rule 1.5). Either allocate fees based on services provided or one lawyer assumes responsibility for the case and the client consents to fee sharing in writing. For example, Lawyer Smith does 40% of the legal work and receives 40% of the legal fees and Lawyer Jones does 60% of the legal work and receives 60% of the legal fees. (For example of states ethics rule: Georgia Rule 1.5) These 4 tips for keeping it clean in legal office sharing arrangements or subleasing are meant to raise the red flag of awareness. Be sure to consult your state's ethics rules for specific guidance and examples specific to your state for your legal office sharing arrangement or subleasing.

Atlanta Lenders and Developers Ignored Warning Signs of Recession

The amount of available office space in Atlanta over the past five years has increased by nearly 6%. As other cities in the country braced for the recession, Atlanta's lenders and developers ignored the warning signs and remained optimistic about the technology sector. Thinking that technology would continue to grow, many lenders eased up on financing terms, which caused some real estate developers to enter into risky projects. The resulting construction boom added an additional 3.6 million square feet of commercial space to the Atlanta market between 2008 and 2010. Even in the city's most affluent areas, the commercial real estate market historically has only been able to absorb between 200,000 and 300,000 square feet of additional space per year.

Further complicating the commercial real estate market, the unemployment rate in the city had hit 10% by the fourth quarter of 2010. Companies were downsizing the workforce and the space needed to operate. While analysts agree that a dramatic improvement in Atlanta's employment rate could help remedy the situation, forecasts suggest that a return to pre-recession employment may only occur after 2014. But even a return to pre-recession employment may not help much since the city's vacancy rate was already on the rise before the recession hit. As a result, employment figures would have to rebound well beyond pre-recession figures to positively impact the commercial market. As supply outstrips demand, landlords desperate to attract tenants are offering space at a significant discount. Rents are so depressed that it may take until 2016 for revenue to rebound. In the meantime, with less income generated, developers and landlords are hard pressed to meet their financial obligations. The result is an increase in the number of distressed properties, and ultimately, foreclosures. As of mid-2010, Atlanta led the country in seizures of real estate backed by securitized loans.

For a city used to leading the nation in relocations fueled by a growing economy, the cruel reverse of fortune is taking its toll. Between June 2009 and June 2010, Atlanta led the nation with the highest percent of real estate transactions involving distressed properties - 46 percent. In 2010, Elaine M. Russell created www.LawSpaceMatch.com, a service that matches lawyers seeking to sublet space with unoccupied office space at compatible law firms around the country. Elaine is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia. Elaine's office is located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. Notes: Taken from: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-14/atlanta-awash-in-empty-offices-struggles-to-recover-from-building-binge.html

Reasons To Work During Law School - A 3L's Personal Reflection

Working throughout law school has been an amazing and unique experience. I can honestly say that my life would not have been the same without having had the opportunity to experience the law in a real-world, work environment. My experience has given me an opportunity that many law students might not have, and I'm thankful for that opportunity. Although it was often difficult to manage my work schedule with my class schedule, making me question my decision to pursue both school and a job at the same time, I was afforded the chance to analyze the court room environment, experience the goings-on of a law office, and strengthen my legal research and writing skills, while my classmates were seeing the law from the confines of the classroom.

A. Job Interviews: Work Experience Made the Difference Prior to the 2010 summer, I had the overwhelming privilege of receiving multiple summer job offers from both sides of the criminal justice system, and I owe it all to working during law school. Before coming to law school, it was my dream to be a public defender so that I could help others (pardon the clich

Law Firms - Don't Use Your Empty Offices For Storage - It's a Waste

Law firm and empty offices - this is the norm now. Don't make your empty law offices storage depots. Empty law offices mean lost cash-flow. If your firm is using empty offices to store old files, office supplies or furniture, your law firm is in a lose-lose situation. Simply, you are paying a certain amount of dollars per square foot to your landlord or to your mortgage holder for this space (if you own it). Sadly, there is little relief in the near future with this economy. Deal with your surplus space--subleasing and space sharing is your answer. Advertising the surplus space has not worked. Where are viable subtenants? Because your law firm administrator may not necessarily have the experience of advertising surplus space or seeking compatible attorneys for subleasing, the file boxes, furniture and excess equipment continue to fill the surplus offices of your law firm. The answer is subleasing. Subleasing will mitigate the loss from surplus space.

Your solution is to go to www.LawSpaceMatch.com where you will be able to quickly post your empty law offices where an attorney searching the web by his or her desired zip code, will find your post quickly and easily. Don't miss out. Post your empty offices on www.LawSpaceMatch.com for a reasonable fee. Lawyers seeking a turn-key law office will contact you after locating your office through a detailed zip code search. Print advertising is expensive, and it has not worked for you because it does not reach the target market at the time you need to fill your space. The internet is your inexpensive solution.

Let www.LawSpaceMatch.com do the work for you...not your law firm administrator, managing partner, or an uninterested real estate broker. Move your files and furniture out of your unused offices today. Sublet or share unused space with lawyers seeking an office in your zip code.

Don't Count On Your Real Estate Broker When you Need a Sublease of Your Law Office Space

Does your law firm have various empty offices, either due to downsizing or lease planning with the expectation of "growth" which has not yet occurred? With surplus space and time remaining on the lease, your law firm has several options. Your office manager can contact a real estate broker, who you will hope to find a sublet which will help defer your costs. The problem is: (i) brokers do not like sublease assignments because the sublease market is twice as competitive as the new space market; (ii) subleases require up to twice the work as a normal assignment; (iii) the fee from subleases averages only 25% of the normal sub-assignment; and (iv) brokers are undoubtedly concerned about the chance of subtenants defaulting on the sublease. With all this in mind, law firm administrators and managing partners currently have to use their valuable time acquiring a subtenant.

Also, sublease assignments generally require the written consent of the landlord. With very few avenues for obtaining a subtenant, hard costs for print advertising, excess expense and the opportunity cost typically deter law firm with surplus space from actually finding a tenant to sublet. Despite the lack of enthusiasm real estate brokers will have for helping you with a sublease, your landlord will want you to use their broker rather than an outside broker. This is a major impediment and will require you to work with someone who really has the landlord's interest at heart. The new solution is an on-line matching service for law firms seeking to sublease surplus space and lawyers hunting down a turn-key office for their law practice. Simply go to www.LawSpaceMatch.com.

Your problem will be solved when you post a short description of your surplus office space, identifying various amenities including copying, internet, research tools, conference room, and whether the office is furnished or not. Add a photo and you are done. This cost is minimal. Potential subtenants exist--lawyers who are seeking to find empty law space as a result of a move, layoffs from law firms where they were employed, or simply part-time lawyers who are moving back into a full-time law practice.

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