In April, Cowork’a took up residence in its new premises on rue Enclos Tissie Sarrus, near the Promenade du Peyrou in Montpellier. This coworking space for lawyers is also open to all professions with similar restrictions.
Interview with Elodie Manonviller, the founder of this space.
This coworking space was created two years ago. What purpose?
First, it was to allow lawyers to take advantage of one workspace and above all innovation, as Montpellier lawyers incubator is also a partner in this field. So the goal was to have a place similar to the other spaces that innovative companies also use on their side to grow their business. Create a place with a synergy, a place different from what they are used to rubbing shoulders with.
In April, you moved. Who says new space also says new professions. That is, your coworking space opens up new professions. Which ones?
Cowork’a was a coworking space for lawyers, and it has become one third place dedicated to law and innovation. I welcome all professions that have limitations similar to lawyers’ in terms of data confidentiality. The internet system I have makes it possible to encrypt data.
I am currently hosting a legal expert, an association promoting a digital safe for asylum seekers, but also an Australian lawyer. He’s not attached to the bar in Montpellier. But he also needs all the rules of confidentiality he has to give his job.
What exactly does this coworking space allow people who do not have their own offices?
This allows a cost that is reduced as they finally have an office, insurance, internet and furniture included. This gives them flexibility as they only have one month’s notice. If they subsequently want to settle somewhere else or develop their company, it is pretty quick for them to get out of the contract they have with me.
The other thing they come for is synergy. All the workshops we offer, with or without an incubator, to develop their personal and professional competencies.
And also the financial network, as I am a business leader. So I receive from time to time after work that they can participate in because it is not in their DNA to make that kind of network or events. And the synergy also happens between them. When exchanging files. That is, when someone enters a file that does not correspond to his specialty, he gives it to his colleague who is standing right behind the neighbor.
Also on a file, when there is a difficulty that he does not get out of it, he will ask for help right next to him. What is already done in traditional cabinets. But there, since they are neither partners nor collaborators, they have no hierarchical connection. It really is a professional friendship that is created.
And in my room I have permanent offices with a separate reception room and a large training room. At the moment, not all the lawyers are in their office, they are in the big room then it really is roommate. They could lock themselves in their offices and be quiet, but they choose to be together.
We feel that reconciliations are taking place. I think in the word coworking, there is the collaboration that is at the forefront, and that is really the most important thing. I’m very happy because it was not won in advance. We are still in a profession that seems to be individualistic, when in reality it is not at all. These are people who, like any profession, are looking for cooperation, mutual help, exchange.
What is it like to rent an office at Cowork’a?
It happens on the website or on social networks. We can not just make such a time and reserve an office on the site. I must first check a minimum that comes to us. It is very important. See if it’s a lawyer, if it’s a person who’s compatible. I’m very careful. To integrate the community of residents, it will be on the waiting list as all offices are rented. And for the others, we can see together if there is a vacant office and for how many people. I choose a room that I can rent on an hourly or daytime basis.