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New ‘office away from the office’ especially for the small, non-downtown firms

By Anna P. Krolikowska

How many times have you found yourself searching for a place to get work done while between meetings or court calls in the Chicago Loop? Coffee shops are crowded and lack privacy and asking friends to use their office can become an imposition. We lawyers aren’t the only ones who find ourselves needing an office away from the office. With the rise of mobile technology, there has been a rise in the need for short-term office space.

One unique option available to lawyers visiting the Loop is ISBA Mutual’s lawyers’ space at 20 S. Clark St., on the eighth floor. There you can find a quiet café where you can help yourself to a cup of coffee or tea, enjoy a great view, and take advantage of free Wi-Fi. Also available are micro-offices where you can make private calls.

The new office is one floor below the Illinois State Bar Association and within a few blocks of the federal and county courthouses and City Hall as well as Union Station, which makes it a very convenient to partake in this free and attractive space to conduct business.

ISBA Mutual Board Chair John Thies explains ISBA Mutual’s open door policy. As a Past President of the ISBA who travels frequently from Urbana, IL, he is well aware of the challenges lawyers face on the road.

“Especially for the solo or smaller firms in the suburbs or Downstate or even just away from the Loop, it can be hard to find practical places for lawyers to spend their downtime when they have court business or client meetings.” He adds, “It can be expensive to find shared space and that may be more than you need. You could stay in Starbucks all day, but aside from confidentiality issues if you’re carrying out business while you’re there, how much coffee can you realistically drink?”

ISBA Mutual also has larger conference rooms, which it makes available to the ISBA as well as local and specialty bar associations. The ISBA has used the space for several functions including the ISBA Elder Law Bootcamp. Also in April, ISBA Mutual’s meeting rooms were the site of a Model Seder held by the Decalogue Society attended by members of the Cook County Bar Association, Illinois Judicial. Council and Jewish Judges Association of Illinois.

While it’s hard to beat the price and convenience of the ISBA Mutual location, lawyers who need to come to the city for meetings or court business have a few other options open to them for spending their downtime.

ISBA Mutual isn’t the only insurance company providing places to get things done in Chicago. If you find yourself in the Lakeview neighborhood, Next Door Chicago, at 659 W. Diversey Parkway in Chicago, sponsored by State Farm, is another convenient workspace for entrepreneurs to work, network and attend professional events. You’ll have to pay for your own coffee there, sorry!

Another meeting place available in the Chicago Loop is the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street. The library has free meeting or study rooms and offers free Wi-Fi. While you are there, be sure to check out the Winter Garden on the 9th floor, a beautiful space that is also available for private events.

If you need a small conference room, the Illinois State Bar Association can provide meeting space and related services at the Chicago Regional Office features six meeting rooms of various sizes (A, B, C, D, E and the Board Room). Rental fees for each room or combination of rooms are on their website:

Co-working facilities also are increasingly common, typically allowing you to use their conference rooms for a day rate and office space for a day or a week. These are usually filled with fellow entrepreneurs and startups, creating a casual networking opportunity. Office equipment and Wi-Fi are usually included in the fee. Chicago coworking sites include Workspring, located at 30 W. Monroe, with “team spaces” starting at $18 per day, and all amenities included. NextSpace, located at 230 W Superior St. in the River North neighborhood, allows the purchase of day passes for $25.

While I’m downtown, I often take advantage of the ISBA Mutual space, but it is nice to know that there are other options downtown where I can conduct business without breaking the bank.

About the Author: Anna P. Krolikowska, a partner in K & R Family Legal Services L.L.P., located in Northbrook, IL, represents clients in all aspects of family law matters, and is the 2015-2016 Chair of the General, Solo and Small Firm Section Council. In both 2015, and 2016 she was selected as a “Rising Star” by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine, a designation achieved by fewer than 2.5% of attorneys under 40 in Illinois, and as an “Emerging Lawyer” by the Leading Lawyers Magazine, a publication of the Illinois Daily Law Bulletin. Anna can be contacted at (847) 715-9328, or at