In 2013, Trevor Smith moved to Toronto with a mission: open the first satellite office of the Vancouver, BC-based Henderson Heinrichs LLP, a law firm for which he had worked for two years.
Smith knew he had to recruit new clients in Toronto and build the firm’s new office from the ground up.
He knew he had to market the firm in a new city. And he needed an affordable and distinguished office space in downtown Toronto to help him achieve his goals. Then began his search in an already tight market for commercial office spaces.
Plenty of options, only one that resonated
In researching possibilities, Smith discovered the concept of coworking and shared office environments. He set up appointments and visited available spaces in Toronto, many of which he describes as “square white boxes in large office towers – devoid of any character and pretty interchangeable.”
But his perception changed dramatically – and much more positively – when he walked into iQ Office Suites’ Dineen Building on (140) Yonge Street. He knew almost instantly that the Dineen Building was where he wanted to work – and where he wanted Henderson Heinrichs LLP to have its Toronto presence.
“It was the look and feel of the Dineen Building that sold me,” says Smith, whose law firm specializes in family and divorce law. “I fell in love with it. The exposed brick, the modern features were so different and so nice – it was a totally different experience and atmosphere from what I found at most of the other spaces I had visited. When I called the partners in British Columbia and told them what I’d found, they agreed that if the price was pretty much the same, we should be in a great building that has a lot of character and lends itself to a professional work environment.”
An office that lets him do what he does best: practice law
Launching Henderson Heinrichs LLP’s satellite in office in the Dineen Building provided numerous advantages, according to Smith.
“The location is super-convenient,” he explains. “It’s close to subway stations, and it’s easily walk-able from tons of downtown office towers. iQ’s front door is sandwiched between the funkiest coffee shop in the financial district and a really fantastic seafood take-out restaurant– it’s a hopping spot.”
“And secondly, everything just works,” he says. “You never have to do anything with IT, tech support, phones, printers – everything works, and everything is included. The owners were very upfront about the price, and they’re here in the building. The staff members are fantastic.”
Successful location = successful practice
Being a satellite office of a Vancouver-based law firm also spurred growth in unexpected ways. Several clients who moved to Toronto at about the same time as Smith needed help with inter-jurisdictional legal issues – challenges that arise as a result of divorced and separated couples moving to or living in different provinces. With the move to Toronto, Henderson Heinrichs LLP now has lawyers in both offices who help clients with divorce and separation issues spanning Ontario and BC and they will soon be opening an office in Alberta to continue to develop this relatively new, niche practice area.
The shared office environment, he points out, is well-suited a variety of law-office scenarios: large firms looking to open satellite offices, lawyers starting their own solo practices, or any company/entrepreneur entering a new city.
“Shared executive offices are an ideal situation for small law firms and for lawyers starting out,” he says, “because you don’t have exorbitant overhead and you don’t have to make a huge, long-term commitment. No one wants to sign a long-term lease agreement when they’re opening a new practice. When you’re unsure of what the future holds, you don’t want to commit to lease 5,000 square feet over three years, and meeting clients in your apartment doesn’t instill confidence, either, so working from home is not always an option.”
“In a high-quality shared office space like iQ, you benefit from a professional atmosphere,” he says. “You get access to board rooms and meeting spaces, which can be very useful when meeting with clients. Quite a few clients have commented on how cool the building is. They’re impressed.”
Lawyers know their offices need to make a good impression, but some law firms are exploring options that allow them to spend less than the 2014 industry average of 6% of gross revenues on real estate. The partners at Henderson Heinrichs LLP have discovered it’s possible to open a law office that’s professional-looking, well-appointed and competitively priced.
To find out how to impress your clients, or to find out about shared office options in the Dineen Building and in iQ’s second downtown location, “The Vault” in the former Bank of Canada Building at 250 University Avenue, please call us at 416-238-1111 or contact us now to schedule a tour. We want to help your practice or business be as successful as possible.