The 33-foot Winnebago Vista was hard to miss when Sidebar rolled into the parking lot of a shopping center in northeast Raleigh—which, for the law firm that operates out of it, is sort of the point.
The new firm, Osborn Gambale Beckley & Budd, purchased the RV and had it renovated into a mobile law office. Sidebar dropped by before lunch on the second day of the rollout, no pun intended, to see it in action.
Justin Osborn—one of the firm’s partners, along with Matt Gambale, Seth Beckley, and Joe Budd—said the four attorneys, all of whom had previously practiced together doing insurance defense work, struck upon the idea of a wheeled workspace as a way to reach out to underserved communities by removing some of the obstacles that can impede access to legal services.
Most obviously, of course, the RV enables the attorneys to meet clients where they are. That morning the firm had dropped anchor in a part of Raleigh where one would be hard pressed to find an attorney’s office for several miles in any direction. Some local residents might struggle to find time to travel to an attorney’s office during working hours, or may not even personally know any attorneys they could call if the need arose, and a conspicuously visible mobile office can help address both problems.
And the whole vibe, down to the attorneys’ khakis and polo shirt attire, is also consciously intended to be less stuffy than, say, a marbled office in some office tower, which some potential clients can find intimidating. The renovation job was impressive in this regard; Sidebar found the space inside the RV to be cozy and charming. (The firm does have a brick-and-mortar office as well.)
Acquiring the 15-year-old RV and having it renovated was a substantial investment, the attorneys said, but the response they’d gotten in the first days had exceeded their most optimistic expectations. Osborn was in the middle of counseling a potential client when Sidebar arrived, and before long several other residents had strolled by to see what it was all about.
In some cases, people have simply had questions that could be quickly answered at no cost, but the attorneys said that part of their vision for the mobile office is to serve as a community resource for people who need affordable legal services.
They’ve certainly found a great vehicle for doing that.