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Setting Up The Office

Deciding on whether your furniture and other office equipment is a necessity or more of a luxury is also one of the initial consideration you would have to make as a lawyer setting up a new practice. Your choice of furniture and other office equipment should be made in the context of your budget and past experience.[1]


The following is a short list and description of the basic necessities that any starting law office will need.

Desks – Take into consideration things such as the amount of work space you need, the number of drawers. Determine in advance whether you would be able to work with a single desk or if you need a separate, side desk for your computer.[2]

Chairs – This is one item where skimping is not encouraged. Since much of your working hours may be spent planted at your chair, it is imperative to purchase a chair that is sufficiently comfortable. It is important that your chair’s height in relation to your desk allows for proper leg and knee room. Finally, bear in mind that your clients would also be using the chairs in your office. Hence, the chairs in your office and waiting areas should be at least somewhat comfortable.[3]

Cabinets and Book Shelves - Depending on your office and the way it is set up, you may need cabinets and/or book shelves. The various supplies listed below will need space to be stored in, and, if you plan on having a library, it will need shelf space.[4] Apart from that, filing cabinets are also a big necessity for your law firm. It is important that you purchase filing cabinets that can be locked since a bulk of the information you will be storing in your law firm would be private and confidential information. Filing cabinets with locks are also useful for storage of other important documents you may hold on behalf of your clients such as wills, stakeholder documents etc.

Other necessities include trash cans, recycling baskets, magazine racks for the waiting area, lamps and lighting equipment.[5]

Finally, your staff will also need most of the above items to the extent applicable. You should try, within reason, to make your staff happy by obtaining furniture that would suit their respective needs.[6]

Office Equipment

[7]Once you have all your basic furniture, the next item to take into consideration is the office equipment you will need for your law practice.

Key items include:
  • A phone system
  • Computers – Apart from the physical machine itself, consider also the different and additional types of software you may need for your law practice.
  • Printers
  • Copier
  • Security system
  • Internet connectivity
  • Fax machine
  • Digital Camera
  • Paper shredder
  • Pantry Essentials (Optional)       

Research Tools 

[8]Third on your list should be research tools. Legal research is an inherent aspect of law practice. Hence, it is an absolute necessity for a law practice to have either a proper library or access to one.
  • Make a list of the textbooks needed for your practice according to the area of your practice. It is advisable to start with publications in loose-leaf form to help keep you updated with changes in the law. Remember, the law changes all the time. Hence textbooks are easily and quickly outdated. Therefore, it may not be cost-effective to stock too many books on general subjects.
  • Access to updated legislation – These days, with the advent of electronic data, research is easily and more efficiently carried out on the internet and it is thus unnecessary to invest in a set of statutes. The Bar Council Library regularly sends out electronic updates to lawyers who are on their mailing list. In addition, providing your email address to Bar Council also enables you to receive Bar Council Circulars about changes in legislation and/or the Court’s practice directions.
There are various research tools providers for law practice to choose from. Most service providers will offer a trial period for law practices to try out the product. It would be good to consider the options for a local research engine, as the research tool would have been adapted to suit local needs and focus more on Malaysian legislation and regulatory updates. There are also research tools available the Bar Council Library that can be utilised for a minimal fee.

[1] 'How to Start a Law Firm: Office Furniture and Supplies’ ( 2008) <> accessed 26 March 2014
[2] ibid
[3] ibid
[4] ibid
[5] ibid
[6] ibid
[7] ‘Setting Up Practice’ (Bar Council Malaysia 2011) 19 - 20
[8] ibid 20-21

Note: The information above is extracted from "Setting Up Practice". For more information, please contact the PII and Risk Management Department.