Tips for Sharing Law Space with Other Lawyers - Don't forget the Ethics

Tips for Sharing  LawSpace with Other Lawyers – Don’t forget the Ethics

Many lawyers, particularly solo practitioners, are sharing law office space with other lawyers.  Overhead expenses, such as receptionists, conference rooms, and internet and copy machines can be reduced if these expenses are sharing by multiple attorneys.  

There are ethics considerations for lawyers who choose to share LawSpace with other lawyers.  While not prohibited by ethics rules, here are some guidelines derived from the Model Rules. 

Avoid Appearances of a Partnership when Attorneys Share Law Office Space

When sharing space with another lawyer, each firm should have a distinct telephone line and should not misrepresent to potential clients that they are in association or a partnership.  Lawyers having separate law practices may not use joint letterhead.  Often lawyers sharing space wish to appear as a larger firm to potential clients in order to attract business.  If you are not a true partnership, it is advised pursuant to ethical rules not to use joint letterhead and present signs that show anything other than the separate practices.  See Model Rule 7.1.

Protect Clients’ Secrets and Confidences

Confidential files of one lawyer may not be accessible by other lawyers sharing LawSpace.  Secure files, digitally or otherwise, to maintain all confidences and secrets.  Leaving files in a joint conference room or break room is not advisable.  Locking files away would be the best way to protect the client and stay within ethical guidelines.

Maintain Independent Legal Judgement

Lawyers should verify that there is no improper solicitation of clients or referrals of business to or from other space sharing lawyers in the office.  A lawyer must take care to exercise independent professional judgment regarding legal representation and not be influenced by other office sharing status. There are specific rules regarding referrals of business pursuant to the model rules.  Under Model Rule 1.5, an attorney may share fees with another attorney outside the referring attorney’s law firm if the fee is reasonable, is proportionate to the work performed and the clients’ agreement to the arrangement is confirmed in writing including the split of the fee. In these scenario attorneys and sharing office space and working on the same client representation must take extra care to ensure that the client is informed that the attorneys are not practicing in the same law firm.

Consider the Effect of Conflicts

When interviewing a new attorney to space share or rent a conference room, a conflict check should be run against the existing matters handled by the perspective attorney tenant and those attorneys currently in the LawSpace.  Sharing space with attorneys with complimentary practices usually minimizes the incidents of conflicts.  If a conflict is identified, the law firms involved can make reasoned decisions on how to address the issue. However, deciding in advance of how to handle conflicts would be advisable.  Check your jurisdiction regarding how waivers are handled with your clients. 

 

New LawSpace for lease - Madison Ave, New York

It is getting cold outside and it's time to find your new LawSpace for your law practice.

 New Law Office and work stations for rent:   488 Madison Ave, zip coce 10022.   

Exterior office with receptionist.   Great location.  Start or move your law practice and share space with other attorneys.  Get the benefits of sharing law office space:  this office has various practice areas.   Work stations which could be used for paralegals and your own secretary are for rent too.  Check it more details including practice areas and other amenities at  https://www.lawspacematch.com   Zip 10022.

Call Nereida Cheshire for more details.  212.308.8505  ext. 1233.

Tips for Getting New Clients

Tips for Getting New Clients

 

According to a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm group, the biggest challenge for solo and small firm law practices is acquiring new clients.   Here are some tips for getting new clients.

 

 1.            Network, Network, Network!          

 

Attend conferences and networking events. Join a bar association, professional organization or committee.  Reach out to other lawyers, but also connect with non-lawyers who work in the same field as you.  Let your family, friends and acquaintances know about your practice and specialties.  Besides networking in person, be sure to network online too.  Do whatever you can to get the word out about your practice.  Part of networking may derive from sharing law space with other lawyers.  After all,  they are right next door to your office and may not practice in the area of law in which you are an expert.

 

2.            Establish and Maintain an Online Presence

 

Establish a professional website for your law practice. Create a social media account on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Avvo.  Continually update and participate in social media like contributing to Avvo forums or posting tweets about legal matters. Start a legal blog that provides helpful information your target audience is interested in.  You can link your blog posts to your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter account.

 

3.             Referrals

 

Maintain relationships with past clients and inform them of all the services your law practice provides. Referrals can also come from other attorneys.  Attorneys who work in a shared office space can recommend potential clients.  Sharing an office space with other attorneys provides many benefits like a strong attorney network, shared resources (printers, wi-fi, conference rooms etc.), reduced rent and a focused work environment.

 

4.            Karma is Real

 

Just because a particular client isn’t a good fit for your practice doesn’t mean they’re not a good fit for someone else’s.  Don’t be afraid to refer a client you wouldn’t normally take to other practices.  Who knows, maybe other attorneys just met with someone that would benefit more from your area of expertise.

 

Source:

http://www.lawsitesblog.com/2016/07/exclusive-survey-results-small-firms-greatest-challenges-theyre-address.html

 

 

Why Lawyers Don’t Sign Non-compete Agreements?

Q.  Why Lawyers Don’t Sign Non-compete Agreements?

A. Post-termination covenants-not to compete for lawyers are generally prohibited.  An Indiana lawyer learned the hard way.  The Supreme Court reprimanded him for including a noncompete clause in an associate’s contract and telling clients about the non-compete after firing the associate.  This lawyer was trying to take over the cases.  See http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2014/11/the-indiana-supreme-court-has-imposed-a-public-reprimand-of-an-attorney-who-had-contained-a-non-compete-provision-in-an-assoc.html  While at first glance this may seem harmless, it is considered unprofessional conduct. Sanctions may be applied to those attorneys violating this Rule.

The basis of this prohibition against noncompetes regarding the legal profession is based on the client’s right to choose representation.    

Q.  What about the Rule in Georgia?

A.    For those Georgia lawyers, see Rule 5.6 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and Enforcement.   https://www.gabar.org/Handbook/index.cfm#handbook/rule135

Q.  Does this Rule apply in every state?

A.  It appears variations of Model Rules of Professional Conduct (”MRPC”) have been adopted in nearly every state.

See https://www.ameicanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/policy/rule_charts.htm. It appears it is a violation of ethics to restrict an attorney from accepting engagement from a potential client or client. Simply, clients have actually set lawyers free in this regard.  It is no small irony that restrictive covenants, while permitted against doctors, are prohibited against attorneys under the theory that there should be no interference with a client’s choice for legal representation. See Georgia Rule of Professional Conduct 5.6. 

Q.   But what of “in-house” counsel?  

A.  The general view is that Rule 5.6 applies equally to in-house attorneys.    (“In the ban did not apply to in-house attorneys, and restrictions were permitted, then ‘the public would be restricted from access to lawyers who, by virtue of their background and experience, might be the best available lawyers to represent them’”).

So, lawyers are free from the restrictive and sometimes onerous burdens of noncompete provisions.  Good for us. 

3 Reasons Solo Practitioners Take the Opportunity to Share Law Office Space

 As we mentioned in our blog post, "You can't run a Law Practice From a Coffee Shop, http://www.lawspacematch.com/2011/06/you_cant_run_a_law_practice_from_a_coffee_shop/, you cannot practice in a cafe forever. Considering an appropriate level of professionalism, an attorney's ethical duty to maintain a client's secrets and confidences confidential, and for your own working quiet space, lawyers need a law office. Why not space share with an existing law firm? Here are three reasons to proceed with space sharing.  

1.   Less day to day hassle

  A law office filled with attorneys typically has all the tools a lawyer needs in their practice, including: a community scanner, an option for an available phone system/voicemail messaging, copying, faxing and even adequate parking. Not to mention a conference room, perhaps a receptionist and waiting area for clients. Seasoned lawyers, holding a long-term lease or owning LawSpace are more than willing to have a solo practitioner share law space. "Package" deals or a la carte deals are available. The headaches of staffing, machine upkeep and office décor or maintenance are shifted to someone else so that solo practitioners can focus on legal expertise and developing their practice.

2.   Filling the Pipeline

We all know it takes a lot of time to meet clients, prepare for litigation, draft documents or close a transaction.  With multiple lawyers just down the hall, a small law firm can usually obtain periodic referrals of clients from overloaded attorneys who need help.   It’s true, if you’re down the hall, you’re the first one an overloaded attorney will consider.  Proximity is key.   And remember, these lawyers are probably practicing in different practice areas so complimenting their practice means more clients landing on your desk.

3.  Reduction of Your Risk

Some solo practitioners and small law firms may opt to avoid malpractice insurance payments.  All the more reason to a join a law office rental sharing situation.  Young lawyers are more apt to ask questions and get a “second opinion” from an attorney they know, trust and who is accessible.  Bouncing ideas off another lawyer about a family law matter, or how to file a mechanic’s lien may substantially reduce your risk of malpractice.  This is important, particularly, when you don’t have malpractice insurance.

  •  At www.LawSpaceMatch.com, we are small law, we know small law and we help small law.  This is a platform for attorneys with empty law office space to list empty space and attorneys wanting space sharing opportunities. 
  • Free search approximately 40,000 zip codes.  
  • As a solo practitioner for over 20 years, the founder created LawSpaceMatch to aid and support “small law” and their need to share office space fast and efficiently. 

Categories