Daily Dispatch

Nothing But The Ruth!

Going Brick-and-Mortar

By | Jan.13.14 | Daily Dispatch, Law Practice Management, Nothing But The Ruth!

Nothing But the Ruth

Well, I took the plunge this past December and signed a lease for a brick-and-mortar office.

I’d had a virtual office for almost two years, using a box at the UPS Store for my mailing address and meeting clients in the conference rooms at the State Bar of Arizona office. It was a great little setup for someone starting out. But I was tired of having to deal with meeting-scheduling issues and I wanted a stronger division between my work and my personal life. Here’s how the first weeks have been going.

My Shared-Space Arrangement

Through my state bar, I found a shared office space only a few blocks from my house — seven attorney offices that share a receptionist and a conference room. My office came furnished, but still I had to do a major shopping trip to get all the odds and ends an office needs — stapler, tape dispenser, three-hole punch and so on.

Rosie at Carter Law

By far the most expensive things I bought were for my dog. Yes, one of the conditions of getting an office was Rosie had to be able to come to work with me. So she now has a bed, water bowl, treats and toys just for the office, and a baby gate to keep her contained. I even found a gate, via Craigslist, that has a swinging door. I’m so glad I can shut my door without having to pull that gate out every time.

I do have to remember to ask potential clients if they’re okay with having a dog in the room … even though once she says hello, she just curls up and goes back to sleep. I leave her at home when I haven’t asked someone about being okay with a dog — and every time they’ve been bummed to see the dog stuff in my office but no dog.

A Place to Hang Your …

One of the things I finally did when I got this office was frame my diplomas. My law degree and law license were sitting in a box, still in the envelopes they arrived in. I’m so glad I moved into this office in December when the craft store was having massive sales, so I could get matching frames for all my certificates for a bargain. Because I didn’t want to disturb my officemates, I came in on the weekend to hang them all up, along with some other artwork. I can’t make a straight line with a ruler, so I knew there would be multiple repositionings of nails.  

I’ll admit, though, there have been days when I’ve wondered why I rented an office. Half of my time is spent networking, which means I’m out at seminars, lunches and conferences a lot. It’s not uncommon for me to only be in the office a few days a week or to leave after a few hours. Most of my officemates are more established and at the office way more than I am. (Wonder if they think I’m a slacker?) But then I get a call requesting an in-person meeting and it’s so much easier to book the appointment on the spot instead of coordinating with the state bar!

Here’s to a Productive 2014

The upshot? So far, working in an office has made me much more productive. When I’m at work, I’m working. I can’t procrastinate by doing the dishes — or watch TV over lunch and find myself still sitting there two hours later. When I go to the office, I’m usually in by 9 a.m., and most days I’ve cranked through my to-do list by mid-afternoon, if not sooner. So, even though I no longer have the luxury of working in my pajamas (at least not without looking like a freak), I think being in an office is going to make for a very productive 2014. 

Ruth Carter is a lawyer, writer and speaker. Her law practice, The Carter Law Firm, focuses on intellectual property, social media, First Amendment and flash mob law. Ruth is the author of the ABA book Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans, as well as The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to Get Sued, Fired, Arrested or Killed. In “Nothing But the Ruth,” she writes about the lessons she’s learning while building her new practice. Follow her on Twitter @rbcarter.

Illustration ©ImageZoo.

3 Responses to “Going Brick-and-Mortar”

  1. Neil J. Squillante
    13 January 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I agree and disagree with this article.

    I agree that if possible people should work in commercial space and relax in their home. I’ve written about this in our TL Answers publication. It creates a healthy divide.

    On the other hand, many commercial buildings don’t allow pets (except for the visually impaired) for good reason — allergies. I’m allergic to cats. My colleague’s husband is seriously allergic to dogs. Even if you leave your dog at home for a day, their allergens will remain in your office. What if a prospective client has a very serious allergy?

    Keep life simple folks. Work at your office with your colleagues. Relax at home with your family and pets. Besides, your dog will be a lot happier hanging out with a dog walker and a bunch of other dogs in a park than hanging out in an office. You might be less happy but put your clients’ and dog’s well being first.

  2. Ruth Carter
    14 January 2014 at 8:13 am #

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Neil. When I decided I wanted my dog to come to work with me, Rosie and I did a meet-and-greet with all the other attorneys in the office to make sure no one had a problem with her. When she’s at work with me, she stays in my office. If I ever have a client who is allergic to her, she’ll stay home that day and I’ll meet with the client in the office’s dog-free conference room. There might be some residual dog dander on me or in the air, but hopefully not enough to set off someone’s allergies.

  3. Janis
    14 January 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Congrats on the new office, Ruth! I hope that indeed 2014 is a very productive year for your firm and that you find your “brick & mortar” arrangment a positive boost to your practice.


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