Posted 22 Sep 2008
Last Thursday, I became the first lawyer to spend a day working from a startup coworking environment. (Well, I’ll make the claim until someone tells me otherwise.)
Coworking is a collaboration space for developers, writers, and independents. My coworking application was approved a few weeks ago, after I made the argument that a lawyer with a blog qualified as a writer and independent. Therefore, I re-arranged my schedule so that I could spend September 18th coworking. And I’m glad I did.
Here is the description about coworking provided by the Big In Japan Coworking wiki, which hosts the Dallas coworking space:
The Big in Japan Coworking space is an experiment and as a result we are not planning to charge tenants, instead we are attempting build an interesting ecosystem that is beneficial to our businesses as well as the businesses of the coworking tenents. We are attempting to help local startups that we believe have promise. The Big in Japan Coworking space is the first of its kind in Dallas, feel free to stop by to check it out!
My coworking day started at 6 a.m. with a non-working breakfast with one of the three Big in Japan co-founders, Jason Hudgins. Jason and I ate at Denny’s on the other side of Stemmons Freeway (aka, “The 35E” for those from California like myself) from the coworking space. After settling our Denny’s debt, we arrived at the coworking space ready to cowork. Jason pointed me to a desk where I was to set up shop.
The Big In Japan Coworking space is phenomenal. Think Chuck E. Cheese, but you are at work…and you don’t have to wear a rat costume. The open, collaborative layout complete with cable drops from the ceiling, includes about 16 coworking style desks (more on this below), conference room, bullpen area, foosball table, Wii (with rockband), conference room, and a scooter.
Why Lawyers Should Never Mess with Wires
I must have spent the first half hour of my coworking experience just trying to plug everything in. And of course I did manage to unplug a few things, including Jason’s laptop, both of our work lamps, and presumably the VOIP phones. Somewhere in this catastrophe, I managed to break the AC adaptor to my VAIO laptop so I had to make a quick trip to get my MacBook. It was going to take more than a broken AC adaptor to deprive me of the coworking experience.
The desks at the Big in Japan coworking space are set up in quads. Two desks side-by-side and then put ‘cop-style’ against two other side-by-side desks. I sat diagonally across from Jason. Rylan Barnes, another 1/3 of the Big in Japan trio, showed up about a half hour later and sat across from me.
The one thing I absolutely loved about the coworking environment is the creativity. The people and surroundings combine to create this “we will change the world” mentality. OK, that may be over the top, but remember that I am a lawyer and that colors, fun, and creativity are pretty much outlawed in the legal world.
And I didn’t let the creative environment go to waste when I asked Rylan and Jason an Android-inspired question: What if mobile phones could operate on 2 different operating systems, similar to how a Mac can run Windows? (Be sure to file that one between “Gore/Internet” and “McCain/Blackberry”)
What I Worked On
I spent my lawyering time reviewing and drafting documents for a couple client transactions. I obviously had to keep the client phone conversations virtually non-existent or find a secluded corner in the coworking space.
The Unanticipated 2-hour Lunch
Since we ate breakfast early at 6.a.m., the lunch place decision seemed a bit more important this day than most. My 2 fellow co-workers and I decided to head downstairs and eat lunch in one of the building’s two eating establishments. We were also joined by Brad Merritt, CEO of Whitebox. We all ate as fast as we could and made it back upstairs to the office 2 hours later. (Be sure to call ahead and place your order if you plan to eat lunch at the High Tech Bar at the Infomart.) Thankfully, Brad had a couple great startup stories to tell which made the wait time pass quicker.
The Rest of the Day
After lunch, I returned to more document drafting and review. I also managed to write a blog post about how I started my law firm. The post had been sitting in my blog as a draft for about 2 months and I finally cranked it out at the coworking space. Later in the afternoon, I got to sit in on a Big In Japan conference call (pictured to the right). I left that evening a true believer in coworking.