November 13, 2019
Nomadic Lawyeringoffice out, travel in?
Question to clients, colleagues, and friends: Would you support a decision on my part to close my physical office and spend the money on travel outside the Bay Area once a month instead? If you can, send me an e-mail. I’d love to read your thoughts. Of course I have some of my own.
I’ve long admitted that the office I hold in Old Oakland is entirely for me. It stores books, some office supplies, and a somewhat better computing setup. I have two guest chairs. A printer has called one home for more than a year now. I couldn’t say the last time a client sat in the other. Almost everyone prefers to go out for a meal, have a coffee, receive me at their office, or find a private conference room in a local venue.
I can solve postal mail with a virtual mailbox. I’ve never had a land-line phone. The services I sometimes need downtown—city hall, IRS, couriers, &c.—won’t be any further from my home than my office is now.
From the outside looking in, I worry mostly about perception. A lawyer with an office feels more established at first glance, even if office rent is secretly driving them to financial panic attacks each month. It’s easy enough to look up a public address on Google and see that it is, in fact, a home. And not a home that I happen to own.
From the inside, my main concern is my sanity. I’ve made the mistake of “turtling” in a highly productive home-office environment before. That’s how I burned out programming.
I like to think I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. But honestly, I think I’d be banking mostly on clients continuing to drag me out to meetings, coffees, and meals. I’d be banking on a new incentive to get out and about and do more events and other face-to-face.
I’d like to have a budget to visit more of my clients who started in the Bay Area and moved away, or never started in the Bay Area to begin with. I’d also like to do more to reach other, significant cities across the country where gaggles of lawyer-programmers can send e-mails about meeting up on a Wednesday and make a date within the week, almost any week. I’d like to be meeting and learning more from counsel and companies outside my little domain, from music copyright wonks in LA to art agents in Victoria and mediators in New York. I’d like to finally get back over to Europe, where I’ve had standing invitations for years. I’d like to get back to Russia to meet, and greet, and talk about what we can do, despite the harsh political climate.
I don’t think I can argue my way to the right call on this deductively. It’s going to be mostly a gut call. I’d sure appreciate some outside perspective as I feel my way around it.
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