Virtual Office » Expanding Your Team Nationwide? This Law Firm Shares How It Hung a Satellite Shingle in Chicago

Expanding Your Team Nationwide? This Law Firm Shares How It Hung a Satellite Shingle in Chicago


As a leader in multiple industries, from health care and technology to food manufacturing and transportation, Chicago is known for its diverse economy. It also offers a robust yet “close-knit” legal community. All of these factors make the third largest U.S. city a top choice for law firms of all sizes to open a satellite office and build prospective clients. In fact, four of the world’s 10 largest law firms have Chicago branches.

But starting a firm in a new city is no easy task. According to commercial real estate company SquareFoot, the average cost for office space in downtown Chicago is $48 per square foot, while says firms typically allocate 300-400 square feet per employee. That means space for one attorney in a satellite office would cost no less than $14,000. There are plenty of other costs to consider as well, such as additional computers and insurance.

Earlier this year, Veteran Legal Group, a California-based firm representing armed service members and their families, wanted to expand. The firm needed an attorney to take on an influx of veteran disability claims and recruited Chicago-based attorney Edward Farmer, who has specialized in veteran disability law for the past 10 years.

“Chicago is a big-size market,” Farmer said about the Windy City’s appeal to Veteran Legal Group, adding that the city lacks stiff competition in veteran disability law. “There aren’t many attorneys who do what I do.”

Farmer has built his Chicago presence through Amata Law Office Suites, the city’s first legal community of more than 700 attorneys and seven Class-A offices in downtown Chicago. When Veteran Legal Group began searching for Chicago office space, Farmer steered the team toward Amata, where he operated a solo practice from 2017-2020.

“What you get for the price is much better than setting up an office from scratch,” he said. “You have the support of the staff … If I was here by myself, my workload would be five times as much.”

In less than two weeks, Farmer had his office arranged and started practicing with his new firm. In addition to a furnished office, he has access to Amata’s experienced paralegal team, live receptionists, copy machines and WiFi, all of which are necessary for communicating with his out-of-state team.

Amata also provides a built-in community of 700-plus legal colleagues, a support system that can be lacking for attorneys working out of satellite offices. Farmer is currently the only Veteran Legal Group lawyer in Chicago and therefore has little in-person interaction with coworkers. But he credits Amata for his relationship with Jim Thompson, a now-retired personal injury attorney, who informally mentored him while Farmer was starting his previous practice. They are still friends today.

As Veteran Legal Group continues to grow, Farmer expects another attorney to join him at the Chicago branch. When the time comes, he said the firm will simply need to lease another office. Amata will take care of the rest and allow them to focus on hiring the right attorney.

“It’s a great place for lawyers to work,” Farmer said. “I really believe that, especially if you’re in a private practice.”

Marc J. Bern & Partners LLP, a New York-based firm specializing in personal injury law, medical malpractice and more, also has a Chicago satellite office through Amata.

Call us or visit our website and take an online or in-person tour of one of our seven Class-A spaces to learn how our legal support services can help quickly set up your satellite office and establish your Chicago presence.