Planning the Next Generation Law Firm

With law firms facing so many pressures from clients, partners and potential new hires, many are looking very carefully at their futures. The influx of millennials into the workforce has brought new concepts of what the ideal workplace looks like prompting upper management to reimagine the kind of physical environment that will sustain current employees and attract much needed talent.

Many law firms are shrinking—not in numbers but in space allocation. Firms continue to reduce their overall footprint anywhere from 25% to 40%. The partner office has decreased from an average of 225-300 SF to 144-168 SF. Libraries are disappearing and the ratio of partners to legal assistants has grown from 1:1 to 1:6 or even 1:8.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size fits all solution and a simple reduction in space will not solve all the issues the legal workplace currently faces.

With the amount of planning needed to create a cost-effective workspace strategy, follow these four suggestions to help you begin the process.

Visioning

This discovery exercise allows you to look carefully at your workplace needs and establish baseline metrics. Design team partners can be brought in at this stage to conduct various workshops and studies, in some cases at no cost.

Technology

With technology changing so quickly, it can be difficult to keep up with and almost impossible to plan for. Flexibility is paramount when designing office space that can accommodate the technology that will keep a firm competitive.

Lease Auditing

Landlords are notorious for making mistakes in common area maintenance charges. Everything from janitorial to overtime air conditioning should be reviewed. These mistakes can add up and result in hundreds of thousands of dollars lost. Lease auditing can uncover these errors and is generally provided on a contingency basis, where no fees are incurred unless overcharges are recovered.

Construction

Many new office buildings are being constructed with law firms in mind. These buildings offer numerous amenities, technologies and designs specifically planned for the needs of law firms. It is worthwhile to see their marketing and technical presentations to understand how new, first-class construction is accommodating the law firm of the future.

To learn more about the evolution of the workspace, read Cresa’s Can a One-Size-Fits-All Model Work for the Law Firm Office Space whitepaper.

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