Lawyers: Don't Sign a Long Term Lease - Sublease space instead

Even lawyers are having a hard time finding a job in these economic times. And solo practitioners are hesitant before signing a long term lease usually requiring a personal guaranty. The good news is attorneys are sharing space and simultaneously saving money and improving business. There are many benefits of sharing law space.

The cooperative spirit of a group of attorneys who practice with each other is invaluable. Water cooler discussions lead to the exchange of valuable expertise with other lawyers and perhaps even a referral for a case or work project. This does not occur when an attorney practices law from home or a coffee shop. Another benefit of sharing law space is creating a better image in the eyes of clients. Attorneys are forming associations when they share space and link they names on the letterhead. They are setting themselves out as attorneys who are part of a law firm, even though they are neither partners nor sharing profits. Instead these lawyers are sharing expenses and saving money.

While there are State Bar rules governing the representation of a law firm where the lawyers are space sharing, the bottom line of disclosure to the client may be easily addressed in the retainer agreement. The retainer agreement with the client should clearly indicate that the lawyer is a professional corporation, a limited liability company or solo practitioner, and he or she is not an associate or partner of a law firm. (Each state has varying rules so check the State Bar for further reference). These guidelines may be easily met. Expansive letterhead of the association of lawyers sharing office space may show a client a more impressive image and office space than any one single lawyer could afford on her own. Expenses of copy machines and other office equipment are much less burdensome when costs are divided among space sharing lawyers.

The bottom line: an attorney may receive more for office rental dollars. Everything from water to paper may be shared and as long as there is a clearly written space sharing agreement, the arrangement adds prestige and cost savings. Attorneys are not signing long term leases; instead space sharing is a beneficial and prevalent concept. Of course, choosing with whom you wish to share office space is an individual choice and should be closely examined. 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. Law office space and attorney profiles may be viewed at www.lawspacematch.com. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia and has an office located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. See Also: A Resolution for Student Debt?, , Law Firms - Don't Use Your Empty Office Space for Storage - It's a Waste

July Brings Unemployment Claims for Georgia Lawyers

Bad news for lawyers. Unemployment rose in July, 2011 for Georgia lawyers and support staff. Last month 54 lawyers and 176 support staff in private practice filed for initial unemployment benefits according to the Georgia Department of Labor. Lawyers are feeling the pinch with a 17% increase in unemployment filings. Regarding legal support staff, a 12% increase in unemployment occurred in comparison to the 157 people who filed unemployment claims in June. A total of 230 Georgia legal industry workers filed claims in July. This is a 13% increase from June. These claims fall slightly shortly than the highest total claims filed since April (234 lawyers and staff filed claims). Legal workers are flocking to the Georgia Department of Labor for relief and these increased filings note the highest total number of monthly claims filed this year. The good news is that although July unemployment claims increased in June, the total claims filed by Georgia lawyers and staff for 2011 have decreased compared to 2010. Claims by lawyers in 2011 are down 13%, as compared to claims filed in 2010. Nationally, 1.1 million people in the legal services industry were without employment in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Legal industry layoffs increased by 1% the month, when compared to July 2010. While some legal firms have survived the initial economic downturn, the unemployment rate for Atlanta is still hovering between 9.7% and 10.4%. These recently unemployed lawyers may decide hanging their own shingle in hopes for the best. Benefits may merely include reduced costs of operating a law practice, especially in a legal community where jobs are scarce. By avoiding overhead costs and startup of law practice, lawyers can find unexpected benefits from office sharing. Advantages of attorneys sharing office space include sharing common expenses including maintaining support personnel, as well as providing the phone system and maintaining office equipment. Other benefits include daily contact with other lawyers who may provide a valuable opportunity to network, in addition to the assistance of more experienced lawyers in your law practice down the hall. Subleasing law offices from an existing firm provides an opportunity for these unemployed lawyers (and their legal staff) that appears mutually beneficial in light of the surplus office space available in Georgia. 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. This law office space and other Atlanta law office may be viewed at www.lawspacematch.com. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia and has an office located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. Notes: The Fulton Daily Report, August 31, 2011. See Also: The Business of Law, Law Firms with Unused Space

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Job Outsourcing: What Does it Mean for the Legal Profession?

"Outsourcing" is not a term with which I am particularly familiar. The word is tossed around as something that takes jobs away from Americans, as companies take advantage of cheap labor prices in other countries. I have always associated this phenomenon with industries such as computer technology and automotive manufacturing. When I heard of law firms practicing outsourcing, I was baffled to say the least. And the most intriguing fact is that this technique is not a new development.

After finding an article in the New York Times 2010 archive reporting on legal outsourcing, I was curious to know just how long this practice has been in use. It turns out, the earliest occurrence of legal outsourcing dates back to the mid-nineties. Considering all the backlash industrial outsourcing has received, it is surprising to see that legal outsourcing has not only stayed, but actually has grown. For the firms there is a practical and economical reason for sending certain jobs overseas and it is the same reason that drives many other industries abroad--labor is cheaper. Why spend 200 dollars an hour for an employee performing basic research when you can spend half that abroad? Or, as the website CPA Global puts it, "when [lawyers] are free to focus on the big things, they can produce even greater results." CPA Global posits that with the removal of menial tasks, lawyers can truly work to the best of their ability. This sounds like a good thing. Who doesn't want their lawyer to have a clear mind when the time comes for trial? But as an undergraduate, this is not good news. Many of the jobs that are sent to countries like India are those that normally go to entry-level lawyers and law students just getting their feet wet. This is sadly just more bad news to consider along with the decline in jobs for law school graduates. How is a student supposed to find work when that work is suddenly being shipped elsewhere? Well, there really isn't cause to worry, yet.

Legal outsourcing is still a rather small niche. But some very good advice can be found in an article posted by Merrick Pastore in April on LawSpaceMatch.com. The article impresses upon all up-and-coming lawyers the importance of networking. When a firm hires a lawyer from another country, they are a faceless and possibly nameless being. An American law student on the other hand certainly doesn't have to be. Networking allows employers to see potential and gauge drive of legal hopefuls. By showing a little tenacity, it is possible to convince others that you are worth the greater paycheck. Sources: http://www.cpaglobal.com/legal_services_outsourcing/ http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/business/global/05legal.html?pagewanted=2 Contributed By: Meg R. DeFrancesco See Also: The Pre-Law Outlook, Advice on Summer Jobs: Both for Now and in the Future, Should I Stay in School? Just Look at the Unemployment Rate

Should I Stay in School? Just Look at the Unemployment Rate

One of the largest trends I've noticed in the last few years is the increasing rate at which newly graduated college students and those older are extending their stay in school. Of my friends who recently graduated, very few of them were content to go back to mom and dad's to live at home and work in an entry-level position. Many didn't even take the famed gap-year--instead choosing to go straight into graduate school. It's really no surprise. More and more employers are seeking those who have achieved some sort of college degree. An Associate's degree is good, a Bachelor's is better, and a Master's or Doctorate degree is like writing your own check to success...or so I thought. In June 2011 the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an estimated 87.6% of 2010 Law School graduates found employment in the months following commencement. After reading this I found myself a little disconcerted considering the national unemployment rate for May-September of that year averaged around 9.6%. While a 2.8% disparity doesn't seem like a great deal, the difference is still unsettling for one very important reason: student loans. As an undergraduate I am fortunate not to have any debt to my name, but with so many of my peers already neck deep in loans or on some sort of financial aid I can't help but think that I will be amongst them soon enough--especially when a year of law school can easily cost $45,000. Often times I think many undergraduate students choose the pre-professional tracks such as pre-health and pre-law simply for the expected big payout in the long run. It's true that lawyers tend to earn more in a given year than many other occupations (the median annual salary settling just above 100K as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), but if no one is hiring, than those already considerable debts will only compound. A debt scenario runs on a continuous loop through my mind that goes something like this: Social and parental pressure dictates you attend a First Tier school + 45,000$ tuition x 4 years (taken in loans) + rent + cell phone bill + groceries + gas (prices of which may or may not force you to take public transit) + health insurance + auto insurance + 45,000 tuition x 3 (or 4) years graduate school + taxes (can't forget them) = severe debt, impending depression and subsequent reliance on Parents This situation may seem slightly exaggerated but when you consider the rising costs of living and the slump that the employment rate for law students has fallen into, it really isn't so difficult to imagine. So maybe this could also explain why so many have decided to stay in school. Maybe right now "real life" is just too terrifying. At least in school we're safe--albeit temporarily. Contributed By: Meg R. DeFrancesco Notes: See Also: The Pre-Law Outlook, Persistence of Economic Downturn Forces a New Legal Landscape, I Need a Job!

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