Do Coworking Spaces and Lawyers Not Mix? Or Are We Too Quick to Judge?

A New York Times article, published a couple months ago by Rebekah Campbell, CEO of Posse, has given rise to a number of blogs and commentaries.

It may be that the title of her article, “Why I Ditched My Coworking Space” has something to do with it.

In the article, Campbell enumerates her issues with coworking as follows:

  • Too much noise even in designated quiet spaces – including lots of loud bragging and showmanship;
  • Too many “wannabes” – co-workers with no real business but who nonetheless constantly intruded on other tenants to pitch an idea or partner up on a project;
  • The perks of the co-working space – such as early evening bands or happy hours – eventually became distractions and often forced tenants to clear out early;
  • Open space also allowed companies to keep watch on competitors’ activity and attempt to duplicate work or poach employees.

So when one thinks of a good space for lawyers to open up their laptops and set up shop, the environment described above would not appear to be ideal. But not necessarily.

The latest response to the Campbell article comes in the form of an article written by Carolyn Elefant for Abovethelaw.com, a publication which provides resources to attorneys.

Elefant, a firm believer in the benefits of coworking spaces, found Campbell’s issues compelling and acknowledges the downsides mentioned in the article. But she is also quick to point out that there are, in fact, many successful coworking spaces for lawyers, spaces which appear to have cracked the code on providing just the right blend of solitude, collaboration and focus.

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New York-based Law Firm Suites, and Atlanta-based Attorney Office Space are two spaces she mentions as examples. (We, at OT, would like to add ROC in San Diego, which has developed a thriving attorney coworking community.)

Elefant also mentions the success of The Denver Bar Association, which has responded to the need by creating coworking spaces for its members. Why shouldn’t other Bars take notice and follow suit, Elefant asks? It could be a strong win-win, creating an additional revenue stream for Bar Associations and providing a unique environment for lawyers that only a Bar can bring.

Ultimately, Elefant’s article underscores what many of the posts responding to the Campbell article have pointed out; coworking spaces are still a work in progress. They will continue to evolve to meet the needs of niche groups, such as lawyers.

And, finally, as should go without saying, ‘try on’ your space before you pay for it. With new spaces opening almost every day, you are almost certain to find one that fits.

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