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MANAGING THE OFFICE

Checklist: How to evaluate an office space for a move

The past year of the pandemic has brought major changes in office space needs for law firms. Law professionals and administrative staff have been working from home and participating in remote meetings and court appearances. Some see the possibility of continuing to work remotely even after COVID-19 restrictions are loosened, and some see the possibility of moving to home and office to locations away from city centers.

If these developments are playing out in your law office, you might be looking at downsizing to a smaller office space or even migrating to another part of the country. When you are looking at a different office space, you might find this office space evaluation checklist helpful:

  1. The most important question: How will the location and layout of this space contribute to the success of the practice?
  2. Will our clients be able to get to our office conveniently?
  • Is it close to where they live or work? (And which is more important for our client base?)
  • Is it close to major traffic routes?
  • Is there enough parking? is it safe? well lit? free or reasonably priced?
  • Is there disabled parking? disabled access?
  • Is there public transportation? (And is this important for our client base?)
  • Is the location easy to find?
  • Is it easy to describe how to get to it (close to landmarks, major intersections, etc.)
  1. Will our attorneys be able to get out to our clients easily?
  2. Does the location have sufficient visibility to support our office’s marketing plan?
  3. Is the location well-serviced by couriers? banks? copy services? office supplies store? shopping? restaurants? other services and amenities we will need?
  4. Is the ambience of the building professional and businesslike? Does the age of the building convey the right message? Is it the kind of building and area where our clients expect us to be? where they will feel comfortable coming to see me?
  5. Does the appearance of each of the following convey a professional impression that is consistent with our practice’s business plan:
  • the area: new? old? going up? going down? clean? not so clean? safe? not so safe?
  • grounds and parking areas?
  • the exterior of the building?
  • the lobby?
  • the elevators?
  • the halls?
  • the entrance to the office?
  • the reception area?
  • the interior halls and work spaces visible to the public?
  • individual offices?
  • board rooms and signing rooms?
  1. Is there enough staff parking?
  2. If above the second floor, are there elevators? Are they fast? clean? modern?
  3. What other amenities does the area offer? the building?
  4. Is the building clean? well maintained? well lit?
  5. Is the signage appropriate? What will it cost?
  6. Is the building management professional and accessible?
  7. Is the lighting adequate? the power supply? the wiring for computers and the phone system? the sound-proofing? the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (“HVAC”) systems?
  8. Who controls the HVAC for the space?
  9. When is the building HVAC system on? is it available after hours? at what cost?
  10. Is there after-hours access?
  11. Is there office-hours security? after-hours security?
  12. Is there a cleaning service?
  13. Do we need new space? or will improved or sublet space suffice?
  14. Do the other lawyers and businesses in the space and the building have good reputations? Do we feel comfortable associating our name with them? Are there synergies with our practice? Will we feel comfortable referring work to them?
  15. Is the space functional?
  • Is the reception area large enough? comfortable?
  • Is the board room large enough? comfortable? functional?
  • Is the administrative area large enough? Does it lend itself to an efficient arrangement of  furniture, equipment and working areas? Is it close to attorneys’ offices?
  • Is my office large enough? Does it lend itself to an efficient arrangement of furniture, equipment and working areas? Does it have a window? Is it accessible to the reception area?
  • Is there adequate storage space for active files? closed files? financial records? other material?
  • Is there a kitchen/coffee room?
  • Is there a room for the copier, fax and supplies?
  1. Will we have adequate space for active file storage? closed file storage?
  2. Is the rental or lease deal in writing? Is there a dispute resolution mechanism?
  3. Is there room for expansion?

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