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Trends in law firm offices

Sept. 11, 2018

Trends in law firm offices

No matter the industry, there is a rising preference for open plan spaces in offices. However, it is more complex when it comes to law firms. Given the nature of these practice, there is a low need for communication and creativity. Above all, these offices seek privacy and confidentiality.

The large spaces required for private offices lead to high real estate costs. This is often exacerbated by the hierarchical environment in law firms. 

Thus, there is a necessity to reduce costs by limiting space. With that in mind, a variety of architectural strategies have been designed to find a balance between privacy and collaboration.  

Live - Work - Play. By 2025, over half of lawyers will be Millennials, a generation well known for incorporating fun in the office. Leisurely spaces such as game rooms, fitness areas or nap rooms are an integral part of this alternative style of work.

Flexible Work. For the most part, it is not necessary for lawyers to be in their offices fulltime. Several firms have adopted different working styles such as, home offices and hotelling. Therefore, there are less desks and private offices because they are not assigned to a single person.

Balanced Open Space. Anyone can use open spaces, but they are not intended to serve all work purposes. Open spaces must be balanced with private spaces. If an associate is removed from an individual office, they must be provided with confidential spaces like phone booths or concentration rooms.

Standard Office Area. The belief that larger offices correspond to a person’s rank is an outdated view. This creates an inefficient use of space and can be improved with offices of the same area for both partners and associates.

Flexible Spaces. According to the occupation index of Baker & McKenzie, result of one of AEI’s projects for Law-Firms, individual offices are used 50% of the time. Although the number may vary among Firms, these offices can serve as meeting rooms for employees when vacant.

Paperless. A Law library is an important and traditional space in firms. Today, their value is merely symbolical and could be easily replaced by technology. In addition, archives can be digitalized or outsourced, subsequently benefiting ‘back office’ processes.