Food, agriculture, and family law attorney, Cari Rincker, shares how a virtual office helped her build a successful solo law practice.
We all take different paths to starting our own law practice. My path included a jeep full of clothes and my golden retriever sitting shotgun as I road-tripped home to Illinois from Wyoming and made my way to New York City a month later.
In 2009, I hung my own shingle on a shoestring budget out of a studio apartment. Soon after, I decided to practice law from a virtual office through a coworking space, which helped springboard my nationally recognized law practice.
Here are a few of the reasons why a virtual law office helped my practice:
1. I Was Embarrassed to Tell Clients I Worked From Home
When I first started my law practice, I used my home address as my business address; however, I eventually learned how important it is for solo practitioners to maintain an image of professionalism and success.
At first, it didn’t occur to me to consider how the legal community might perceive my law firm because I was using a home address. For example, I remember cringing when another lawyer told me to put “Suite 2A” in my email signature instead of “Apartment 2A.” I also remember being a little embarrassed the first time I was in court in Brooklyn putting my home address on the record.
I still know some lawyers who use their home address as their business address, but I think it elevates your game to have a professional business address. It will boost your reputation and bolster your credibility among your peers and clients.
2. Clients Refused to Pay My Consult Fee When We Met in a Coffee Shop
Almost as important as the address, being able to practice law from a virtual office gave me a quiet, professional place to meet with clients.
Your office space will matter to clients because they have certain expectations for what their attorney will look like or what type of office they will have. You can make sure you are meeting those expectations by using your virtual law office as your own law office.
In the infancy of my law practice, it seemed some folks were charmed (or so I thought) when I offered to “meet them at Starbucks” or come to their home. Although, I think more people were turned off by the fact that I wasn’t meeting them at an actual law office. In fact, one time I had a potential client refuse to pay my consultation fee when we met at a loud coffee shop.
I know some clients love when a lawyer will travel to them but many are leery about inviting someone they don’t know well into their home. For lawyers, making house calls doesn’t necessarily project an image of success.
Being able to practice law from a virtual office gave me the option of using a real, professional office space when I wanted it. It impressed my prospective clients and helped me close new business.
3. I Felt Unsafe Using My Home Address for Work After Landing a Newsworthy Criminal Case
Attorneys typically put their law firm address on their business cards, in their email signature and on their firm website. If you’re using your home office address, this means anyone who has contact with you or looks you up online will know where you live. I soon realized I was taking a huge risk.
When I first started my law practice I did some per diem court appearances in a myriad of practice areas, including criminal law. After an experience in a newsworthy case, I decided it wasn’t safe for my home address to be publicly available.
Even if you aren’t a criminal lawyer, you never know what type of enemies you could make when working a case or just in general. You should avoid giving anyone easy access to you, especially if you have a family. Using a virtual law office address instead of your home address for your law practice is a simple way to take precautions.
4. It Was Really Inexpensive to Get a Virtual Office
Finally, I received all of these benefits for a very affordable price. For a small monthly fee, I was able to maintain the credibility of my practice, solidify my reputation and retain my privacy, while still working out of my home office.
The best thing that my virtual office provided me with was time to develop my business. I was three years into running a solo law practice before I could afford a brick and mortar office. During these first pivotal years, I was able to have access to a professional space that supported the growth of my practice at a price tag I could afford.
If you have any questions on how a virtual office at Ripple Coworking can help your law practice, contact us at email@example.com.
Cari Rincker is the owner of Rincker Law, PLLC. She is a top rated general practitioner in New York City with concentrations in food, agriculture law and family law. She is also a prolific writer, and articulate speaker. As a family and matrimonial attorney, Cari has developed a strong love for her work. She is a trained mediator for divorces and child custody and visitation disputes. In 2015, Cari published Onward and Upward: Guide for Getting Through New York Divorce and Family Law Issues.
Cari’s passion for agriculture issues is also deeply rooted. She grew up on a seedstock Simmental cattle operation in Shelbyville, Illinois, where she spent significant time working on her family’s farm. Cari is licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and Washington D.C. If you want to contact her, she can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at (212) 427-2049. You can also follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page or connect with her on LinkedIn.