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Law Firm Art Gallery: Why You Should Have One

To you, a law firm art gallery may sound like a nice idea for a firm with a handsome budget and a fine palate for the bourgeois -- in other words, some other firm. Au contraire, dear populist! Small to mid-size firms with a humbler sensibility and smaller offices can, and maybe should also partake in the fine art world.

Here are a few reasons why your firm needs an art gallery:

  1. Community. With the right selection, a thoughtful art collection can creatively express your commitment to the people your firm serves. It's a nuanced way to show passion for your field of expertise and above all, your community.
  2. Extra income. If you start to feel like certain pieces are starting to resemble dead weight as they hang there in the office, make them mobile. Make it available for personal viewing or loan it to academic, civic and cultural interest groups. You can monetize your collection and make a pretty penny or two, or you can share it out of the kindness of your heart.
  3. Charity. When you're ready to part with certain pieces, you can donate the art to a number of public-access sites. It's a fresh way to get your firm's name out in public and convey your firm's culture. Your firm may not have the cashflow to buy a building, but it's possible for you to donate a reasonably valuable piece of art to a visible spot with a firm name placard to boot.
  4. Creativity. "Most people don't think about lawyers and art mixing," Linda Myers said to Chicago Lawyer Magazine. She's a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, head of the firm's debt finance practice, and oversees the Chicago office's art collection. "Creative is not the first word that comes to mind when you think about lawyers, but we need to be creative," she said.
  5. Diversity. Myers also noted its art reflects one of the firm's central tenets, which is diversity. The artists you select can be really diverse, from all different genders, races and sexual orientations. "That's the kind of diversity we are trying to create in our lawyer population," she said.
  6. Joy. "I could be headed to a buzzsaw of a negotiation and when I walk past those toys I just feel better," Myers said. Art can transform an otherwise sterile office into a happy, inspiring and comforting space.

How to Start a Law Firm Gallery on a Tight Budget

For law firms interested in starting collections, do your (fun) due diligence. Research the art yourself -- online or at galleries, hire an art consultant, or both. If you need to brush up on your art knowledge, read the arts section of the newspaper, visit art galleries and sign up for printing house newsletters.

"You can create a great collection with limited means if you know what you're doing," says Terry Moritz, a principal at Goldberg Kohn.

Be open-minded, go with your gut and above all, have fun with it.

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