I’ve had the privilege to be traveling a lot this month between Los Angeles, San Diego, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Tampa, and now Austin, I’ve been on the road and on the go, however, my productivity from the standpoint of work is up. This little fact has raised the question in my mind as to why we work and live the way we do in the traditional law firm model.
I consider the traditional law practice model as that of a physical brick and mortar office with a receptionist, and a series of offices, conferences rooms, and work spaces in which attorneys and support staff show up in the morning, and stay until well after 5:00 p.m. when their work is done for the day, or they’ve met their billable hour quota for the day. To receive phone calls, or faxes, the lawyer needs to be in her office. To access records, files, research or resources, the lawyer needs to be in their office. If they want to work from home they can pack up and relocate to their kitchen table.
This model has existed since I’ve known what a lawyer was, and for many it has proven a very profitable and reliable system. However, for some of us, we would like to build a life around our practice, as opposed to being enslaved by the work in such a way that our lifestyle, and relationships, suffer. The days of the traditional model as the only way to practice are over.
With third party applications, and software as a service, an attorney can be as productive in an airport, a coffee shop, their kitchen table, or on the beach as they are in the office. Without specifically endorsing a product, Google Apps, Dropbox, Grasshopper, Clio, Rocket Matter, etc. are changing the way the legal world can, and should, work.
If you’re happier working out of a coffee shop, why wouldn’t you make it your office? If you’re happier in the office, by all means stay there. But for a few hundred dollars a month, a virtual office is a great option for those who aren’t married to the idea of a traditional office setting. And with the sharing economy becoming the norm, clients are more likely to prefer meeting outside the office, or in their own office.
Additionally, the idea of a lifestyle based legal practice reduces overhead, and inherently increases efficiency, which allows for a more value based fee structure offered to happier clients. What’s the downside?
Productivity is about execution. Life is about your time, memories, energies, and impact. If you can build a productive legal lifestyle that provides ample opportunity for quality family time, increased memories, and impactful action, why would you not? There is no reason not to.
Give yourself the opportunity to stay away from the office for a week, or at least a day, and see if you can maintain productivity levels at your average pace. If you can’t, evaluate your processes and see where there are holes in your technology, which are keeping you tied to the office. If you can, then set yourself free; and go enjoy the Lawyer Life.