If you've decided to lease office space rather than go the virtual route, congratulations! You're well on your way to looking professional.
Before you get that office space, though, there are some things you want to think about that will make your whole experience better in the future. They might not seem important before you sign that lease, but if you don't take these things into account, they'll slowly nag at you until you wish you had.
1. An Ethical Office Space
Ethics? In picking office space? It's more likely than you think -- if you're sharing office space, that is.
Several state bars, the ABA, and local bar associations, have ethics articles about the ethical implications of sharing office space with other professionals or even other lawyers. This means you have to take precautions to secure client files, but also to keep client confidences in other ways, like finding a quiet place in the office to chat with a client in person or over the phone. Oh, and if you're sharing the space with other lawyers, take care not to get into conflicts with them -- of the professional kind.
2. The Parking Situation
Even though it's a business, not a profession, you still have to treat a law firm like a business. That means keeping an eye on some of the same things that concern any business owner, like logistics. Is your office easy to get to by public transportation? Is there parking? Can people see your sign?
Poor planning can spell death for a business. As they say, the three most important factors for determining whether a property will sell are: location, location, location. You don't want potential clients to give up and go to another law firm because just because they couldn't find parking. Before you sign that lease, make sure your office is easy to get to by way of whatever method is either most common for the area or most common for your potential clients.
If everything goes well, your firm might expand soon. But if you're not ready for expansion, you won't have the capacity to expand your business even if clients are breaking down the doors to write you checks for your work. (Also: Are you sure that's not just an angry mob out there?)
Any office you pick should have some kind of room for expansion, whether it's storage space for more files or the ability to shove another desk in there in case you need to hire an associate. It's a terrible problem to have to say, "Gee, I'd love to take on more business, but I don't have the space to do it!" (You could always move, but then you'd have to deal with these problems all over again.)