SoSmall Series: This series focuses to cover various technology topics for championing solo, small businesses and professionals in the legal industry.
A few months ago, I met a new law firm with two principals. They spent about US$100,000 renting and fitting out their place of business (even before they rendered their first bill). The principals have their suits tailored at top tailor for no less than US$500 each. They have high overheads with most of their support functions undertaken by employees. As a new law firm, they will probably take months to fully recover these initial costs.
Last month, I met another another law firm doing similar work in three states in Australia. The firm operates out of law-related co-working spaces in these jurisdictions. Interestingly, its principal wears designer-quality suits which are tailored offshore for well below half of what a similar suit will cost in Australia (and my conversation with him was triggered by my desire to find out which tailor he uses). By pooling resources such as IT support and use of paralegals in their co-working spaces, they had been able to reduce their overheads, remain productive and become more profitable. The principal’s primary focus has been on increasing the number of fee earners within the firm.
Ironically, I was told by both firms that the legal profession is all about the first impression that the client gets. As such, they wanted to make an impression with how they work and what they wear.
There is a bigger lesson here: making an impression need not necessarily be expensive.
Clients no longer expect professional services providers to operate out of dedicated office spaces. I am meeting more law firms that are moving out of leased premises to embrace co-working spaces. More clients accept the value of such agile spaces. I have found that clients now prefer to meet their service providers over the phone or in their own premises.
Indeed, most SoSmall professional services firms (owned by sole proprietors or a small group of principals) require a similar set of services. By pooling business development, marketing, IT support, paralegal support and other back-office functions, SoSmall firms can do a lot more with lower overheads. I am meeting more such firms share the benefits of pooling such resources. It also means that these functions are more efficiently deployed and SoSmall firms have the flexibility to engage such resources when required.
If you are SoSmall and wish to consider alternative methods to reduce your overheads, consider pooling the resources you may need as a firm with others.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.