In the past, each law partner may have had his or her own administrative person. Now one admin might support four to five partners. And, the partner's private office may have had a high degree of finish work, expensive paneling and furniture, whereas, now the focus is on multiple-sized meeting and conference rooms near the reception area. Law firms on average are reducing office footprints by 15 percent when relocating.
National law firms are mandating standard layout criteria and suburban branch offices, with partners' offices shrinking from 220 to 240 square feet down to 150 to 180 square feet. Reports of major suburban firms experimenting by taking a division and implementing open-space design, then after interviewing and finding opposition, the next phase goes less dramatic in actual change design. For the most part, though, other than national firms, it is still old school private offices and workstations for now. As more suburban national firms reduce or eliminate private offices and create significant cost efficiencies, this may pressure local firms to follow suit in order to stay cost competitive.
According to Haworth in Workplace Trends Influencing Law Firms: "Demands for more efficiency, collaboration, attracting Millennial talent and implementing new technology are just some of the issues that companies are dealing with. For continued success in the future, law firms will need to evolve, acknowledge these trends and behave more like a contemporary business."
By: Jeffrey Weil
Jeffrey Weil is an executive vice president for Colliers International Walnut Creek. Mr. Weil has specialized in the sale and leasing of commercial properties for 38 years and has achieved CCIM, SIOR and NACORE’s Master in Commercial Real Estate Services with Honors (MCR.h) designations.
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