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Like Bruce Wayne, I have an alter ego. In my alternate life, I'm
Batman a solo practitioner who works from home. Lots of solos have a separate office, but being that I'm part-time, all that office space wouldn't make sense. Other solos work from home because it's cheap and there's not much reason to rent office space.
Writing briefs in your pajamas is great, but logistical headaches flare up from time to time. Without the features of a fully equipped law office, solos who work from home have to fend for themselves when it comes to things like printing, mailing, and filing.
Here are some of the common problems we face, with some handy solutions:
1. Getting the Mail.
Even if you're lucky enough to live in a jurisdiction that does everything electronically, you still have to send paper letters back and forth. Solos with offices have mail come to them, but if you're a solo with a home office, you've probably got a P.O. box you have to check all the time -- to say nothing of going to the post office. Rather than stand in line at the post office, there's always a postage meter or a service like Stamps.com (but be warned: Stamps.com is a monthly subscription service).
Printing might not be a problem at all, but appellate attorneys know that appeals courts want briefs bound in all sorts of ways, with wacky colored covers depending on which party you are and what your filing is (who thought "beige" was a good idea for the reply brief, anyway?). I used a commercial printer like Kinko's for a while, but they're not reliable if you have a deadline. I wised up and bought a laser printer, some card stock, and a binding machine. (Inkjets just don't cut it: The quality isn't the same, the ink can smear, and printer ink costs more by volume than expensive Champagne.)
3. Answering the Phone.
You really don't want clients to have your personal phone number, but if you work from home, you either have to get a second phone line or do something else. The "something else" -- which is cheaper than a second phone line -- is to use a phone service like Google Voice, which gives you a real, no-foolin' phone number that you can forward to your real phone.
4. Sending Faxes.
The fax machine is The Technology That Wouldn't Die. Some attorneys still expect you to fax things to them, but it's not likely you have a dedicated fax machine in your home office. The easy solution is an online "virtual" fax service, which allows you to upload a document, which the service will then manually fax to the recipient. Silly? Archaic? Redundant? It's all of those, but we have to make due until the old attorneys figure out how scanners and email attachments work.
5. Meeting With Clients.
For a variety of reasons, you may not want clients to know where you live. But you can't just meet a client at Starbucks. As we wrote about last year, companies are starting to fill the demand for temporary meeting spaces by providing office spaces that you can rent out for just a few hours if you need to meet with people. This preserves confidentiality, makes you look professional, and keeps those clients off your lawn.
If you're a work-from-home solo, what problems have you faced? How did you solve them? Let us know on Twitter @FindLawLP.