Moving On Up: Tips for Smoothly Relocating Your Law Firm

moving day

Your law firm is ready for a location change. Now it’s time to box everything up and ship it across the city. Simple as that, right? If only.

I am the firm administrator for a six-attorney office that, for the past several years, was located in downtown Kirkland. Our lease was ending in the upcoming year and we were ready for a change of scenery in downtown Seattle. Our law firm’s new lease was signed in the middle of April and we were moved out before the first day of June. With that short amount of notice, the move could have been very difficult, but we made it work. I’m happy to share a few tips that helped me complete our move quickly and (fairly) effortlessly.

Start early and get multiple bids. If your firm is thinking about moving, start looking at vendors who can help you out with your needs. That way, when a final decision is made to move and the lease is signed, you can review all of your options and choose the best fit right away. It is never too early to have all of the information you need.

Read the lease. Unless you’re in love with the minutiae of typical contracts, this task will probably be really boring. But the lease has important information in it that you need to know, such as whether you are eligible for reimbursement for moving costs, when your first payment is due, how much rent increases each year, and so on. Be sure to look it over before signing.

Stay organized. Make lists, keep folders, be an organizational stickler — figure out how you are going to stay organized before you start. I kept a master folder with four different sections, so I was able to find what I needed when I needed it.

Ask a lot of questions. I mean A LOT. Clarify with your vendors or property management company as many times as you need to. Receiving contradictory information can be a big setback. If you are given different information from the same vendor, don’t just accept it; make them clarify and explain the change.

Get to know the people you are doing business with. Develop a relationship with the folks you are going to be working with over the next several months. The better the relationship, the smoother the project will go.

Don’t wait for your vendors to contact you. Want to know where your bid is? Ask. I was on a deadline and I’m slightly impatient, so I asked several of my vendors up front when I should expect information from them. If I didn’t receive it, I (politely) nudged them to hand it over.

Connect your vendors. I’m not an IT person, nor do I know what a coaxial cable does. Rather than try to study a fourth discipline, I decided it was best to connect all of our vendors that needed information from each other. That way, nothing was lost in translation and they could all decipher what the other needed — which all sounded like Klingon to me (I credit a certain sitcom’s theoretical physicist for even knowing what that is).

Use your resources and professional networks. There may be someone in your firm who has gone through this process before and can advise you throughout the project. Use your professional network to search for vendors that other firms have used, so you know you’re working with a highly regarded company.

Have some fun. Enjoy this process! It gives you a chance to show off and run the game how you want to play (think Germany, not Argentina). I liked the fact that I was the person with all of the information; I knew the stage that each project was at and knew the status of each vendor relationship. Moving our firm also presented me with the opportunity to wear multiple hats. At the end of it all, I was a project manager, interior decorator, contractor, designer — oh yeah, and the firm administrator.