Today’s law office is radically different from what many might think – and the changes keep coming.
The law office a client might walk into today is more likely to see espresso machines and funky colors than book-lined walls and dark paneled walls.
A recent feature LawFuel prepared for the New Zealand law market showed some of the ‘funk’ that was occurring in the design of law offices there, including one firm with its own, on tap beer in converted warehouse space, creating a feel that is more akin to a high tech start-up than an established law firm.
And, also Down Under, Australian law firm Gilbert + Tobin recently picked up a lot of their Sydney office redesign ideas to use in their Perth refit after the firm found a significant lift in ‘workplace culture’ following the Sydney office redesign.
“The experience that we had in Sydney was that we were so overwhelmed about how good the outcome was,” said G+T partner Michael Blakiston.
He noted that the difference with the redesign was such that “people just wanted to excel at what they do.”
Indeed, an effective workplace design can have overwhelmingly positive effects not only in terms of workplace culture, but general productivity and even recruitment.
In the case of New Zealand law firm Meredith Connell, the Chief Operating Office for the large firm noted that the redesigned premises for the firm greatly assisted recruitment efforts because young lawyers were much more inclined to work in space that was more attuned to what they expected in the 21st century.
Re Imagining the Law Office
One of the key drivers for law office design today is the impact of technology.
As noted in Workplace Design law firms are being far more adventurous in the way in which they use their space.
Evolving technologies coupled with new economic realities have led law firms to re-imagine the type and quality of space they need. Changing client perceptions about legal services has encouraged law firms to take a critical eye to their real estate needs, often times reducing their rentable space while maintaining attorney counts.
The premium paid for office space has also necessitated a reduction in overheads, but that process is simply enhanced with technology, as lawyers are now mobile and used to sharing resources and space.
Hot desks, breakout rooms, meeting rooms, cafes and indoor/outdoor space are all part of the new design matrix for the modern law office.
Lawyers are wanting a mobile environment that permits flexibility that is permitted by iphones, virtual law libraries, tablets and other devices.