A solo attorney shares how a virtual office helped her build a successful business.
Entrepreneurs all take different paths to starting their businesses. For solo attorney Cari Rincker, a golden retriever sitting shotgun in a Jeep full of clothing as she road-tripped from Wyoming to New York City.
Like many service entrepreneurs, in 2009, Cari started a law firm on a shoestring budget out of her studio apartment. But soon after launching her business, she felt uncomfortable about using her home address for her law firm. So she decided to run her business using a “virtual office” through a coworking space, which helped springboard her nationally recognized law practice.
Here are a few of the reasons why a virtual law office helped Cari’s business:
1. Cari Was Embarrassed to Tell Clients She Worked From Home
“When I first started my law practice, I used my home address as my business address,” said Cari. However, she quickly learned how important it is for lawyers 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,” said Cari, who cringed when another lawyer told her to put “Suite 2A” in her email signature instead of “Apartment 2A.” She also remembers being a little embarrassed the first time she put her home address on the record in court papers.
Ms. Rincker still knows some lawyers who use their home address as their business address. “I think [a virtual office rental] elevates your game to have a professional business address, it will boost your reputation and bolster your credibility among your peers and clients,” says Cari.
2. Clients Refused to Pay Cari’s Consult Fee When She Met Them in a Coffee Shop
According to Ms. Rincker, having a quiet, professional place to meet with clients was just as important as having a professional business address.
In a professional service business, impressions matters. “Clients have certain expectations about what their attorney will look like or what type of office they will have,” says Rincker. “You can meet those expectations by using a virtual office for your law firm’s office.”
In the infancy of Cari’s law practice, it seemed that some folks were charmed (or so she thought) when she offered to meet them at Starbucks or come to their home. “I think more people were turned off by the fact that I wasn’t meeting them at an actual law office,” says Rincker. “In fact, one time I had a potential client refuse to pay my consultation fee when we met at a loud coffee shop.”
Some clients love when a lawyer will travel to them, but many clients are leery about inviting someone they don’t know well into their home. According to Rincker, “for lawyers, making house calls doesn’t necessarily project an image of success.”
Being able to practice law from a virtual office gave Cari the option of using a real, professional office space when she wanted it. “It impressed my prospective clients and helped me close new business,” said Rincker.
3. Cari Felt Unsafe Using Her 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. Says Cari, “I soon realized I was taking a huge risk.”
When Cari first started her law practice she 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,” said Cari.
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 office address for your business 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
With a virtual office rental, Cari received all of the benefits of a professional office 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,” says Cari.
But according to Ms. Rincker, the best thing that her virtual office provided her with was time to develop her business. “I was three years into running a solo law practice before I could afford a brick and mortar office,” says Cari. “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 protected].
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 [email protected] or phone at (212) 427-2049. You can also follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page or connect with her on LinkedIn.