Not every lawyer lives near a Starbucks. Worse, cofficing options for some lawyers are so limited that the only real option is a QuikTrip with spotty WiFi, bulk beef jerky, and International Delight creamers. If you find yourself in such a limited practice setting, accept that you may need to office initially from home from your mom’s basement.
If you find yourself sharing an office with kitty litter and a dehumidifier, here are a few tips to help get your practice off the ground, or at least above the ground.
Make It Yours. It’s likely your mom only uses the basement for laundry and for storing your old cheerleading uniforms. Thus, you typically have the space to yourself and can make it yours. Take advantage of this. Claim the ping pong table as your desk and the abandoned Barcolounger as your laptop chair. Empty out the plastic bins to use as your filing system. And power up the old treadmill to see if it works. If it does, it’s a great way to take a call on your cell phone and pretend you are walking quickly to an appointment or to the courthouse.
Ask Mom for Help. If your mom is around during the day, ask her to help you get your practice off the ground. If you are expecting an important call, ask that she answer it and pretend she is your receptionist. Make sure she knows she is playing that role, though, and knows what to say. A misplaced “honey, I think it’s that boy we met last week at the Kincaid’s” can really harsh your professional image. Also, even though she’ll suggest it, it’s not a good idea to invite some of your “client friends over for egg salad and Utz.” Sure, take the free lunches when you can get them. Just don’t include your clients.
Meeting with Clients. The hardest part of practicing from your mom’s basement is where to meet clients. Obviously, if you had a Starbuck’s or WiFi-enabled coffee shop nearby, you would only be living in your mom’s basement — not practicing law from it. If the bowling alley or VFW Hall is not an option to meet with a client, consider video conferencing or Skype. But make sure you have an appropriate background behind you during the conference. If your client spots a water heater next to Jello molds and a broken bumper pool table, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re in the basement.
With just a few adjustments and some creative energy, you can make a bad situation bearable. Remember, you’ll likely only be in the basement for a few years while you get your feet wet and your practice off the ground. As Starbuck’s continues to add stores throughout the country, you may be out and cofficing elsewhere much sooner than you think. As you practice in the basement, however, let us know how it’s going and what tips and advice to pass on to other lawyers in your situation. You are not alone.