SAN FRANCISCO – There are more lawyers in the Bay Area who have opted for a shared workplace environment than in the local top law firms.

According to Pacific Workplaces, who provides shared office space, there were more than 500 lawyers using its facilities. That was fewer than in the firms of Wilson Sonsini, Fenwick & West or Morrison & Forester, who were named by the San Francisco Business Times as the largest Bay Area law firms.

John Latini, who uses the services of Pacific Workplaces, said the environment was very much like that of a larger law office.

“The experience and the feel is really no different. In fact, I have always found it a little refreshing in the sense that you do have folks other than lawyers on the same floor or maybe next door in the different office buildings,” he told the Northern California Record.

The idea behind Pacific Workplaces' operations is a workplace that costs little due to its pay-per-use basis and also offers a collaborative office environment. This allows attorneys access to conference rooms, day offices, live phone answering, call screening, call transferring as well as on-site staff that can help with tasks.

The managing partner for the company said there was a big need for shared office faculty for attorneys in the area.

“The number of lawyer-preneurs that establish their own practice – many right out of law school – seems to be on the rise. We have made the support of solo attorneys and their specific needs a key focus of attention,” Keith Warner was quoted in a press release.

Yet, Latini said it wasn’t just lawyers who were finding the shared office experience an attractive alternative.

“It is not always just lawyer discussion, but you kind of see and feel and hear how other businesses run and the issues that they have to deal with,” he said.

He added that it has been a good fit for his work.

“I think the workspace concept provides a fantastic flexibility to lawyers and any business who do not want to enter into a long-term, three years and up lease agreement. It allows them to be flexible and change with the times,” he said.

He said that while it was possible to have a bothersome neighbor in that sort of environment, it was not usually the case.

“I think from my experience that the folks that run it are very good about being sure that everyone is a good neighbor and that if it does get to be a point where it is distracting they will talk to that tenant,” he said.

“I know they have removed tenants if they didn’t seem like they could work congenial in an environment like that and they do in fact make it too distracting, but my experience is that is the exception rather than the rule.”

The company started in 2003 in order to adjust for a more mobile and fluid-working lifestyle.

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