Solo and small firm Attorneys working from home is a brilliant idea!
However, working from home takes an unholy amount of self-discipline so, let’s see first if you have the right mindset:
What’s your routine? i.e:
Hopefully not this:
If your answer is Yes to any of the above five things, then forget working from home – you won’t make it, and within about six months, you’ll close down.
If your attitude is more:
If you answer Yes to any of the eight things above, then the sooner you get started, the better, and you should do well by working from home.
Working from the couch or bed is anathema, and should be avoided at all costs.
The spare bedroom is now your office, and all the business talk should remain there even after you leave the office.
You should get up in the morning and go through your routine of getting ready to go to the office so that you’re nicely dressed when you walk into your office at home.
If you feel nicely dressed for the office, then although you’re at home, you’ll be more productive than you would be wearing sweats and flip flops or takkies.
Make a list of things to do and then do them; don’t stop for anything ‘til they’re done.
Try not to sit in your chair unmoving for over five hours – it’s not healthy – you need a short break in between. Maybe you can go and get yourself some coffee or something which you a short break before continuing with your list.
Treat yourself to a good office chair – one that’s comfortable and one that you can sit in for six or more hours without pain, for when you’re behind and a job needs completing.
Also, think about lighting. Your lighting is essential so treat yourself to a good desk lamp that you can move in different directions – it will help.
It would be good if the second toilet in the house is nearby so that strangers don’t go roaming through your home while you’re stuck in your other unable to escort them.
If you’re married, set boundaries with your Spouse. Restrictions that will stop them from disturbing you.
So now, an Attorney has set up business in his house. He has logos on his stationery, his business cards are correct, and, what’s more, he’s organized things so that, when a client is due, the nonworking supportive Spouse takes the dogs for a walk so that your and your Client can enjoy peace.
An alternative to the above is to rent an office on an ad hoc basis as and when needed. This option could prove more complicated than merely using the office in your home.
When our Attorney has a Client-Consult booked at his home, he will conduct it in his office (the spare bedroom office). If his explanation is short and sufficient, the Client won’t care; they might welcome it and feel privileged being in the Attorney’s residence. The Client will pay for the first Consult and will be receipted immediately by the Attorney.
Then the Consult takes place. After that, the Client leaves, and the Attorney starts to work on the matter. When the Client returns and sees how much work his Attorneys has done on his case, he will be well pleased.
Once the matter is concluded, and the Client gets more or less, the result he wanted. He will leave, and without realizing it, he will go out and sing the praises of his new Attorney and do so much advertising for him that the Attorney will undoubtedly achieve several leads from that!
There will be those Clients who live far aware, and unless you want them to sign something, you have video consults with them. When you see someone who is well dressed, well presented, well-spoken, and in control of the situation, they will be suitably pleased.
They will notice you’re not smoking; you don’t have a beer or snack on your desk. The TV isn’t on nor is any music-making its presence felt in your office.
They, the Client, shouldn’t be able to ‘pick up’ anything about you as your office/spare bedroom should be completely neutral and give away nothing about yourself or your family. It should look clean, sparsely furnished, and all about the work.
Again, for your long-distance Clients, i.e., If they only come out to meet you if something needs signing, put the phone on answering and quickly drive out to meet and accommodate them – they’ll appreciate that.
Because you’re basically ‘at home,’ you will probably feel more relaxed, but please do not overly relax with your Clients. Do not become familiar with them, and further, never let things get on a social footing. That’s how to lose Clients – not gain them.
If there are a few staff members involved with your Firm, they really should do what you have already done with your home – if that’s at all possible, they should make every effort to arrange things similarly.
Naturally, from time to time, you will all get together, possibly at your house, for specific meetings and certain work functions – like making bundles for a big Trial – what fun!
It doesn’t mean you must socialize with your staff members either! You need to keep things on a business-like but warm basis – not too informal but informal enough to keep everyone relaxed and making verbal contributions at the meetings, etc.
If you’re not nervous, if you don’t um and arr and stammer and stutter all over the place, and make apologies for your home, etc. – as some people do, maybe your Clients will instruct you, and perhaps not.
However, if you appear confident, say clearly what you want to say, look the Client in the eye and take full control and appear as though this is perfectly normal. They will believe and respect you and probably follow you no matter what.
Once you’re ‘set up’ and going strong, you will behind to see the amazing advantages of working from home:
Working from home should quickly increase your communication skills because it always and only you who’s talking to the clients, so you get more experience.
It also gives you an increased awareness of what your Client is saying. While working at a firm for a Boss, you might never have picked up on these things, but now, you’re earning your crumbs, you notice the little pauses in speech, the hesitations, and you don’t shrug it off, you interpret it for your benefit.
Don’t forget what Covid-19 has taught us. You’ll be inviting people – strangers – into your home from time to time, and you must go through the Government recommended routing. Give them alcohol-based handwash and take their temperatures; ensure they are wearing the required masks and try not to take them for any reason. So, don’t shake hands, don’t hug, and please, please remember the social distance of at least 1.5 meters. You could have just invited into your home someone with Coronavirus.
The above should be all common sense and human nature, but we all need reminding occasionally. Follow all of the above, and your business should do well and give you the independence and freedom you need.
We certainly wish you well and look forward to hearing your success stories!