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Is SOHO practice right for you?
SOHO practice--from home, without
staff, associates, or partners--has its good and bad points.
Here's what I found so far:
- Quality of practice.
My work is better, thanks to more quiet time, better focus without
the distractions of an office.
- Decreased stress. The
home office lawyer has a simple work life. Sure, you spend
time stuffing envelopes, making your own appointments, and generally
doing tasks which don't seem lawyerly. On the other hand, you
avoid managing employees, dealing with partners, and wasting time
over every minor decision.
- Low overhead --
should not be the main consideration. The lawyer who can't
make a living in a traditional office environment will quickly go
- Better client contact.
Without a secretary or paralegal between the lawyer and client, the
relationship grows closer. I know and understand my clients
much better than ever before.
- No backup. Careful use of technology, and a loose association with a contract
lawyer can handle this problem.
I was immediately amazed at my
increased productivity. Working alone in my basement office is much like
working at your office on a weekend. Peace and quiet really boost
production and creativity.
Here's a test, like you might
find in Cosmo. If you answer yes to each of these,
you may be ready to move your practice home.
- Can you make decisions
without consulting colleagues? Do you enjoy making
decisions without input from others? Do you have enough
experience to confidently practice alone?
- Are you self
motivated? Everyone I know who works at home has no trouble
keeping on top of things.
- Do you enjoy close personal
contact with clients? If you don't like your clients,
forget home office practice. Bury yourself in a skyscraper
downtown. Hide behind your staff.
- Are you willing to spend time
- Are you familiar with computer
technology? Do you enjoy learning new hardware and software?
- Do you accomplish your best work
alone? Do you enjoy quiet work time?
I fell into SOHO practice almost by
accident. We moved into a new waterfront home, and I couldn't stop
visualizing myself working in the daylight basement. It sits on the edge
of the lake.
One room is about 300 square
feet, with windows on two sides. We added a sliding glass door, a
patio, some carpet and paint. We'll soon have a concrete walkway to the
entrance, and a separate bathroom.
This configuration works for me
because I see very few clients in the office. I might have one deposition a
month here. Usually, I just go to the adverse lawyer's
office. I carry no more than twenty cases at a time, many in
distant counties, and often meet clients at their homes or offices.
Don't try this at home if you expect
dozens of general practice clients showing up at all hours!
and land use restrictions are generally easy on home workers, but can depend
on the the cooperation of neighbors. Here, the solution is usually to
practice in a low key manner. If you put up signs and treat the
neighborhood like your private parking lot, you may have problems.
My solution is to keep the impact from my office at a minimum.
Pay attention here. Your homeowner's policy won't cover business
equipment and supplies. It won't cover liability when some defense
lawyer falls off the porch.
Now the good news. An endorsement deleting these exclusions
will cost you about $25 per year. That's right, $25. Call your insurance agent now. Don't
wait until your home law office is under way.
IRS has realized that home office business isn't just a tax scam
anymore. See your accountant about writing off a portion of your
utilities, repairs, etc.
(This page will feature photos,
descriptions and tips as I collect them. Please send ideas and
photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let me put your home office up for all to admire.)