Managing Fast-Track Sublease Relocations for New Firms
by Marcia Watson Wainess
(County Bar Update, August 1999, Vol. 19, No. 7)


Managing Fast-Track Sublease Relocations for New Firms

By Marcia Watson Wainess, Law Office Management Section Executive Committee. She is Director of Law Firm Services for Duitch, Franklin & Co. LLP, certified public accountants and business consultants. She can be reached at The opinions expressed are her own.

When forming a new law firm, attorneys frequently move to previously built sublease space, which can save them time and money. Once the decision is made to start a new firm, the momentum of the decision puts everything on a fast track. Therefore, the relocation usually needs to be accomplished in four to six weeks (although giving yourself 10 to 12 weeks would alleviate a lot of pressure). This requires a great deal of organization and attention to detail to ensure that all critical areas relating to the move are covered. I have found working with a checklist that includes important items and deadlines assists in keeping the project on track and on time.

If you are starting a new firm and planning your move, let me share a few pointers that should save you money and aggravation:

It is important to reserve the freight elevators at the old and new locations at the earliest possible opportunity. After your sublease is executed, make sure that the elevators are reserved in your firm name. Many office towers limit moves to weekends and evenings, so the sooner you have a confirmed reservation in writing, the better.

Another area that requires immediate attention is ordering telephone lines, service and equipment. These should be ordered from your telephone operating company with sufficient lead time (at least four weeks) to guarantee that telephones will be operational on or prior to your move date.

You should obtain proposals from three movers and request their quotes be on a not-to-exceed basis. This will protect you from open-ended moving costs. Note, however, that if the scope of work for the move changes at your request, an additional fee will probably be charged.

Again, with respect to movers, the placement of furniture and boxes at the new location is generally done by number. You should assign all employees a location number and make certain that all office/work locations are sequentially numbered on a floor plan of the new space. This will assist the movers on move day. If you make a last-minute location change (e.g. move Lawyer 6 from Office 6 to Office 12), make sure that his or her furniture and boxes are relabeled Office 12. Although it may require some extra effort on your part, this will prevent the movers from being slowed down while locating out-of-sequence numbers. Of course, this will result in a move that takes less time and costs you less money.

Starting a new law firm is an exciting time for everyone involved. The physical move is only a small part of what needs to be accomplished. With some move planning, you will be ready to greet clients on the first day of business at your new firm.

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