Time to begin year-end tax work

Too early to suggest working on your taxes? Absolutely not!

Once Thanksgiving hits, the rush to year-end becomes more hectic.
Start organizing your records now. Pull together and sort income and expense documentation – whether stored digitally or physically. Evaluate 2018 deductions before it’s too late. Tax questions? Call your accountant or tax preparer in the next two weeks before they’re buried by work.

To help you get started, here are some tips from the experts:

Tax preparation checklists are available from a number of public sources, including Nerd Wallet, H&R Block, TurboTax and others. The best come from your accountant or tax preparer. In either case, rely only on credible sources. For example, avoid irs.com. Remember: all government websites use the suffix .org.

Taking small steps now will ease the pain of tax return preparation later. Open your calendar and find 30 or 60 minute appointment blocks for specific tax-related tasks, like gathering records, sorting records, scanning receipts, or calling about your tax questions. You’ll be glad you did.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2018]

Flex Space and Other Meeting Options for the Home-Based Practitioner

Practicing from home has its challenges, chief among them finding a place to meet with clients.

Until recent years, meeting options were fairly limited. Some lawyers elected to pay for an executive suite.  Others borrowed a colleague’s conference room, met clients at their location, or gritted their teeth and used coffee shops.  A few lawyers invited clients into their homes.


Traditional Meeting Options Aren’t the Greatest

Executive suites are fine, if you can afford one.  Using someone else’s conference room is hit or miss. Going to your client’s location can be a nice touch, but isn’t always optimal. Be prepared for interruptions from others vying for your client’s attention.

Coffee shops are bad for the obvious reason (confidentiality) and some would add they are unprofessional.

Seeing clients in your home?  I am not a fan.  You are sacrificing your privacy and the privacy of everyone else you live with.  In addition, most jurisdictions require a special permit and a business license.  In addition to the fees involved, your special permit may carry a long list of conditions and standards.  Tigard’s “home occupation permit” is an example.  Also be prepared to purchase a rider on your homeowner’s policy adding premises liability coverage for business invitees.  (If you’re a renter, the same would apply to your renter’s insurance – assuming you are allowed by the terms of your rental agreement or lease to operate a business on the premises.)  Have I discouraged you yet? Good. I’m all for working at home.  I’m only opposed to seeing clients at home.

Flex and Co-Working Spaces

Fortunately, there are a growing number of flex space and co-working options. What makes them different from an executive suite? You can book co-working space, a business center, or shared space by the hour, day, or month on-demand through a website.  Think of it as Airbnb for client meetings.

Here are two to consider: ShareDesk and LiquidSpace.  Both are good solutions for meeting space in larger metro areas, or if you need to set up a meeting out of state.  As they catch on,  I suspect options in less populated areas will become available too.

In the Portland metro area, take a look at:

Another possibility is Regus meeting rooms by the hour.  (Regus is a long-time competitor in the executive suite business.  A quick check of their site shows meeting rooms available in Portland, not elsewhere in Oregon. Perhaps a better option for out-of-state business meetings… ?)

Some flex spaces require membership or give perks and discounts to members. Depending on specifics, this may end up making them very similar to an executive suite.

Statewide Meeting Options in Oregon

If you don’t know about the “Oregon Meeting Rooms” list on the Professional Liability Fund website you’re missing out.  Visit the website, select Practice Management, then Oregon Lawyers’ Conference Room.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and locate the heading “Other Options for Meeting Space – Metro Area | Statewide.”  A link to the meeting list appears here. It contains four pages of options for free or inexpensive meeting space made available by libraries, bar associations, and courthouses throughout Oregon.  The state is well-covered, with meeting options in places like Dallas, Lakeview, and Vale in addition to the valley, coast, central Oregon, and larger cities in eastern Oregon.

Portland Metro Area Choices

  • The Oregon Lawyers’ Conference Room is free meeting space courtesy of the PLF and Oregon Attorney Assistance Program. To learn more, visit the PLF website, select Practice Management, then Oregon Lawyers’ Conference Room.
  • The Multnomah Bar Association makes its conference room available at no charge to members.  Read about the conference room use policy here.
  • The Oregon State Bar offers meeting rooms on an hourly, half-day, and full-day basis.  Extensive amenities; check the website for rates.
  • Naegeli Deposition & Trial generously makes its conference room available to Oregon lawyers.  Contact Naegli by phone for more information: (800) 528-3335.
  • Specialty bar groups may also be willing to lend out their conference rooms – make a phone call if you want to pursue this option.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2017