What Kind of Law Office Space Should I Have? Pros and Cons – Part 3


Subleased SpaceToday’s post is part 3 of a 5 part series by Debra L. Bruce on determining the best kind of office for your law practice.  Parts 1 and 2 discussed the home office and shared office space.  Today Debra addresses  the issue of subleasing.

Subleased Space

This is another version of shared office space, only you don’t have a direct lease with the building owner. Your landlord is another law firm. In a slow economy many law firms may cut their employee count, but they can’t reduce their office space due to a long-term lease, so they sublease some of the offices.

Pros:

  1. Sometimes a law firm will offer free or cheap space to new lawyers or laid-off lawyers to give them time to build up some clients.
  2. Even if you pay full rent, you’ll get the benefit of amenities, such as a kitchen, receptionist, conference rooms, equipment, and sometimes even furniture, usually at a significant discount to the pro-rata cost.
  3. Since you are right down the hall, you stay top-of-mind for referrals. The other lawyers may be more likely to pass on to you a matter that is too small for their firm, or that doesn’t fit their expertise.
  4. As they develop familiarity with you and confidence in your work, the relationship might ripen into an employment or partnership situation, if you are interested.
  5. You can enjoy many of the benefits of being in a law firm, without getting caught up in the firm politics.

Cons:

  1. As a subtenant, your rights are derivative of the rights of the main tenant. If they don’t pay the rent, you can be evicted.
  2. In a low cost or free arrangement, the law firm you sublease from will probably reserve the right to kick you out whenever they need the space, on rather short notice.
  3. Even if you have a sublease for a set period of time, when their lease ends, your lease ends. At the end of the lease they may move or reduce the size of their space, without regard to your needs or preferences, requiring you to find a new location.
  4. As a mere subtenant, you probably won’t have any say over the performance of staff, even though they may sometimes interact with your clients.
  5. You’ll still have most of the other disadvantages of shared office space, and it may be even more difficult to distinguish your separate status from the larger firm.

Be sure to follow us tomorrow for the discussion on renting a managed office in an executive suite, Part 4.  Follow these links to catch up on Part 1, the pros & cons of a home law office, and Part 2 about the pros & cons of shared office space and Parts 4 & 5, the pros & cons of an executive suite, and the home law office + office hoteling.

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