Moving an office of any kind is a hassle. It requires even more planning and personnel than your normal office operations. Moving a legal office is not different and involves both the issues with moving a normal office and unique issues involved with law offices specifically. The process of making this move efficiently and without incurring extra costs involves time and planning.
Use this guide and checklist to understand how to move a legal office efficiently and also how to avoid problems that are possible when doing it improperly, such as losing cases, angering clients, and losing your subscriptions. We’ll go over both the steps you need to move any office and also those that are particular to moving legal offices.
The first steps to moving
Before you begin planning the concrete process of your move, you need to take a few preliminary steps to make sure it goes smoothly. This includes making sure your employees and agents are on your schedule, your budget is situated, your packing materials and moving schedule are in order, your employees are informed and have new keys and addresses, and your vendors are informed.
An Asset Tracking spreadsheet could be useful to help organize your moving plan. Someone in your office needs to be in charge of managing the move, whether that’s you or an administrative assistant. This person will be instrumental in planning and executing your move efficiently by:
- Keeping track of the budget required to move the office
- Keeping the office staff informed about the timeline of the move, including providing them with new keys
- Making sure that everyone is on the same schedule
- Procuring the packing materials you need to start moving the office furnishings and documents
- Communicating consistently with the office’s vendors
- Tracking all the elements of the move on a spreadsheet that you can keep track of
By appointing someone to be in charge of the logistics of moving your legal office, you can spread the load around and maintain communication with your clients and counsel while an office administrator handles the move.
Notifying different parties that support or surround your legal office is an essential early step to moving. In terms of moving normal offices, subscriptions and services are the easiest to reroute. If you get mail or any magazines at your legal office, you need to give those subscription services your new address. If you are a member of a local legal organization or board, they need to be notified as well.
This applies to your building as well. Your utilities and leasing contracts need to be considered before you make the move and the proper administrators need to know ahead of time.
If your legal office uses a printing service or other supply account for your letterhead, pads, or other materials, you will also have to notify them that you will be changing your address or that you no longer need their services.
Your telephone service provider also needs to be notified of your new address. Any legal associations or service providers that you use or subscribe to need your new address on file so you can keep using their services in your new location. These include former clients who may seek your services again, vendors, government legal agencies, your state’s bar association, your vendors, and any other services that you give business to.
As a law office, your clients may be long-term or recurring customers who need to be notified that you’ll be moving with enough time to find new legal services. This is especially complicated if you are currently engaged in a case, as the opposing counsel, the court itself, the county, and in some cases the trial court administrator all need to be notified that you’re changing location.
Any institution that your office currently deals with needs to be notified, including insurance companies, banks, local courts, and anyone involved in your current case. Since this can be complicated and time-consuming, it’s best to start this process early.
Your letterhead also needs to include “Note new address” on correspondences for a few months after you change location. This also applies to business cards, checks, form documents, and practice management software, all of which needs to feature your new address.
You may not be thinking about taking care of the building that’s about to become your old office as you move out of it, but things are going to crop up during the move that you need to take care of. Hopefully the person you appoint to manage the move will take care of this, but even if that’s the case, you need to know what to tell them.
First is deciding whether your law office is going to use a moving company or buy your own boxes and work it out yourself. A moving company is expensive but it might be more convenient for you, giving you time to focus on notifying clients, council, services, and other organizations and leaving the moving to the professionals.
You should also make sure you’re stocked up on cleaning supplies. It may not seem like it at first, but your office probably needs more cleaning than you realize. When you start disassembling everything, you’re going to find dust, debris, wires, trash, and anything else you haven’t noticed. You may need to vacuum and scrub floors before you go. You may need to be prepared to leave the building in a better state than it’s in right now.
This step should also include figuring out what you don’t need. Maybe you want a new desk in your new office and can throw away or donate the old one rather than move it. Or perhaps the reverse is true – your old office may have had room for a conference table that your new office won’t be able to accommodate.
By figuring out ahead of time what you’re keeping, donating, and throwing away and setting your moving manager on itemizing, listing, and disposing of all that stuff, moving your legal office could be a much more efficient process.
This list will help you assemble a timeline that you can give to your moving manager or use yourself to expedite your moving process.
The first step is to decide if you’ll be using a professional moving service or doing it yourself. This will determine your timeline, the supplies you need to buy, and what you need to tell the relocation company about the move.
Then you need to make sure your building’s on the same page in terms of your utilities and moving schedule. This includes not only your lease and electrical bills but also scheduling the elevator for the day you’ll be moving when you’re close enough to the date to know specifics.
Throughout the months of your moving schedule, you need to make sure you’re managing your notifications of the move with the clients and services that depend on you. This includes notifying your clients in multiple ways – change your answering machine message, call them, list the changed address on your door, and help them find new legal services if you can. For the services you use like subscriptions, printers, and other suppliers, you also need to make sure to confirm your new address.
You may not realize you need an “art hanger” when you’re making the move, but it’s something that could expedite the process and save you a headache in the end. You probably have a lot of stuff hanging in your office from diplomas to art and a lot of is securely fastened. If you’re going to start breaking walls, making holes, and generally making a mess when you try to dismantle some of it, it could pay to find a professional art hanger to work in conjunction with your movers to get that done.
Moving a law office is complicated – it has the logistical issues of moving a normal office combined with the added pressures of managing clients, switching contacts, contacting your bar association, getting a new legal license if you’re traveling far, and notifying your opposing counsel and local courts. In addition to these official business decisions, there are smaller things that can add up as well, like cleaning the office, packing everything you want to take ahead of time, hiring an art hanger, and donating or trashing everything you don’t need or will end up replacing in the new office.
Use this guide and checklist to itemize your office and organize your plan for your moving manager. By knowing exactly how the information will get to your current clients and services, as well as to your current employees who need to be kept in the loop about the location change, you’ll be able to expedite the process of moving your legal office.
Notifying anyone who relies on your business of the address change is a lengthy process by itself. Along with everything else required to move a legal office, you need to have several months at least to plan ahead.
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