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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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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