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Many lawyers wonder about opening second offices, sometimes known as "branch offices" or "satellite offices."
There are many factors to weigh before opening the doors to your second location, including whether business can justify the cost, and whether or not a second office would compromise the quality of the representation given to your current client base. Here are some of the most common reasons attorneys open secondary offices:
1. You've Maxed out Your Current Region
Attorneys consider opening a second office in another region because they've penetrated their home region's market for services to the greatest extent possible.
A divorce attorney in North Carolina explained that he considered another office upon discovering that his firm was involved in approximately one-third of all potential cases. Essentially, the firm had conflicted itself out of business. This attorney was advised by consultants that his market penetration in his home region was about as good as it was going to get. Thus, when your revenues begin to flatten, this might be a reason to consider opening another location.
2. New clients Are From the New Region
There's nothing that says that clients necessarily will only be from your area. Clients frequently call from outside of your home location and even from another state. If you practice an area of law that requires frequent meetings with clients, then setting up a second office in another location will make sense.
In the case of the aforementioned attorney, his area of of practice was family law with an emphasis on divorce. In family law, meeting clients is unavoidable and a second office could generate more foot traffic.
Whether justified or not, there is a notion that law firms that have multiple locations are more prestigious than firms that don't. If you want your practice to be associated with quality, expand your firm. Also, as noted by Mark Herrman at Above The Law, law firm leaders have egos.
There's no question that being located in a sparkling building can add glamour to your brand, but always be mindful of the costs. A larger presence will no doubt generate income, but make sure the increased income can justify the increased expenses.
4. It's Closer to Home
If you're lucky enough to work close to home, consider that a blessing. Many attorneys are not so fortunate. If you're tired of commuting, maybe it's time to open a second location closer to your homestead? That will cut down on your personal expenses by saving you time and commuting costs.
5. You Practice Federal, so the Country Is Your oyster
On the flip-side, it may be the case that you or your practice overwhelmingly handles issues involving topics like IP, bankruptcy, or immigration. In this case, expansion is easy to justify.