Lawyers sometimes find themselves in need of temporary office space for jobs that are too big or too distant for the permanent office to accommodate, and the need for technology in this secondary location is crucial. Any member of the legal team who might use the remote office will work more effectively if all technological amenities of the modern law office are available.
Attorneys sometimes set up a remote “war room” to conduct litigation at an out-of-town courthouse. Additionally, when large numbers of documents must be reviewed quickly, temporary staff may be added. If the workforce balloons beyond the limit of the accessible space, a remote office can provide additional space for discovery.
The War Room
If the offsite office is to be used as a base while making a case out of town, the individuals setting up the office have the advantage of knowing to expect this need in advance. A logistics team headed by a project manager can coordinate all issues in setting up the temporary office. Besides getting the temporary space ready for work, this person will answer many questions, including:
- Where will the trial team be housed?
- How will the team get around town?
- What technology is needed, and how will it be acquired?
The best war room location is near both the courthouse and the hotel. Often, a conference room in the hotel can be used, and, at times, hotel rooms themselves become the base for day-to-day work outside of court. When hotel rooms are the answer, these should be extra rooms in addition to those used by the trial team for rest. When renting office space, try to negotiate a lease that can be cut short if the trial is resolved early.
Information technology staff should handle technology setup, including Internet, phones and remote connectivity. Planning must stay on schedule so that all services can be functional a week before the arrival of the trial team. Every piece of technology should be tested before the beginning of the trial.
A temporary network with virus protection and a firewall are important in the offsite office just as they are in the main office. Remote connections are a helpful leap in technology, but it’s better to have all needed files on site. Additionally, members of the trial team should have their own computers. For rentals, IT can reproduce the desktop and functionality of that person’s computer at the main office.
Document Review Rooms
When discovery grows to encompass huge numbers of documents, it can require additional staff and even a temporary office to relieve the pressure. In the largest urban areas, ready-to-use document-review rooms might be available for lease.
Plaintiffs also may conduct electronic discovery at an offsite location. A decision to do so might simply be a practical decision on the part of the plaintiff’s legal time, or, in some cases, a “special master” might determine that a particular location is a fair and neutral space to store mirrors of the defendant’s hard drives.
Similar to planning to locate war rooms for out-of-town trials, it can be advantageous to make a deal for document-review rooms or electronic discovery space that can be cut short or extended depending on the length of time the trial stays in the discovery phase. Devoted project management and IT integration are crucial in any case that requires expanding the practice out of the main office.
Burke, Christy. “Another Kind Of Room With A View.” Law Journal Newsletters, March 2006.
Jackson, Stacy. “Gear Up for Great War Rooms.” Legal Times 29, no. 16 (week of April 17, 2006).
Piganelli A., Timothy. “Setting Up a Mobile War Room.” Law Office Computing 16, no. 3 (June/July 2006).