Firms pitch full amenities, low overheard to attorneys
MoreLaw Minneapolis, an office suite in the Flour Exchange building in downtown designed specifically for attorneys, is expanding.
The firm has seven rental offices on the fifth floor of the building and is in the process of opening 17 new offices on the third floor. The expansion is expected to be completed by November.
Kimberly Hanlon, an attorney and the owner of MoreLaw said the suite is full and demand is there for more office space. She credits the flexibility in what MoreLaw offers for the success. Some tenants are traditional and rent an office with a door. Some tenants just keep a mail box at MoreLaw or rent out a conference room for a client meeting or mediation or reserve an office for the day.
There is no shortage of shared office suites available in the Twin Cities, but MoreLaw says its suites are designed specific to the needs of attorneys.
That starts with the technology that helps small firms and solo practitioners run their business efficiently. Attorneys can print wirelessly throughout the office and have their faxes emailed to them in a PDF. A custom built voice over internet protocol phone system will email an attorney when they receive a voicemail. There is billing and bookkeeping services available and the four conference rooms have flat screen TVs set up for videoconferencing. If an attorney needs a translator, MoreLaw provides one.
The demand for executive suites for attorneys is on the rise across the metro area. Katrina Pitts, the manager of 701 Executive Suites in downtown Minneapolis said 52 percent of her tenants are attorneys. She has seen the number of solo or small firm attorneys tenants increase in the past several years.
“Executive Suites, or other shared office facilities, give the ability to have an office in a Class A facility with all the necessary office functions without the overhead like a receptionist, support staff, lobby, break room, copiers, phones and Internet,” Pitts said.
Hanlon keep an office and runs her practice from MoreLaw and she was very involved in the design. She said when she first moved in the people at the Flour Exchange Building were not sure that what she had in mind would work. Now, they show prospective tenants what the finished product looks like.
“We are a service-based industry; we don’t have a product to sell,” she said. “Working smarter and more efficient has never been more important because there is more competition than ever for clients. What we provide is economical. If something breaks here, you don’t have to pay for it and the more of that you don’t have to worry about, the more you can concentrate on being an attorney.”
Clients want their lawyer to look like a lawyer, even if they run their practice with a laptop and a cell phone. The suite has plenty of open, communal space, a reception area, a kitchen and four large conference rooms. There are private offices in the back and day offices available to rent.
“Your office can either add to your credibility or detract from it,” Hanlon said. “And you really can’t get anything else like this for $300 a month.”
That’s why in addition to the technology, she also included personal touches. The conference rooms have pens and paper on the tables along with a box of Kleenex and a pitcher of water and glasses. A receptionist greets everyone who walks through the front door.
In addition to the office options, MoreLaw also hosts networking events and CLE seminars. The suite is a few minute walk from the Hennepin County Government Center and Family Justice Center and the federal courthouse.
Tim Connelly was a partner in a Twin Cities law firm before going out on his own. He said the options at MoreLaw suited him when it came time to look for office space. The economics of MoreLaw made sense to him.
“I meet with my larger clients at their place and I travel a lot. I needed the flexibility, but didn’t need a full blown office. I’m not around enough to use it all,” he said. “The other places I looked at tended to nickel and dime you for things like faxes and printing.”
Will Davis also keeps an office at MoreLaw. He said he tried working from home in the past, but soon realized that work needed to be kept at work.
“I like that everyone here is an attorney, rather than being lumped in with accountants or physical therapists,” he said. “It’s nice to have peers next to you. They may not have the same practice, but you still can walk down the hall to bounce ideas off someone if you are stuck on something like you could at a larger firm.”
Attorney Bill Joanis said that keeping an office at MoreLaw, rather than working from home, he can set better boundaries with clients.
“If you are at home, there is no line with your clients,” he said. “You have to worry about getting called too much, or even clients just showing up at your home. And doing family law at a coffee shop would be the last thing I would want to do. There would be too many confidentiality issues and you’d be worried the clients would not take you seriously.”
Hanlon said there is a sense of community among the lawyers who practice at MoreLaw.
“We benefit each other,” she said. “I think your practice gets enhanced. You are more ethical, you are more creative in finding solutions when you are surrounded by others in the profession. I want people to have a great practice and a great life.”
Contact Dan Heilman at firstname.lastname@example.org.