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Law Firms: Offices of the future?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 07/08/15

A recent report by Colin Scarlett of Colliers International, a leading global commercial real estate company, has revealed the five top ways in which UK and US law firms are adapting to modern demands of office space and an increasingly commoditised marketplace.

These are as follows:

1. Open layouts are becoming the new norm: this is believed to encourage interaction between those on the office floor, heightening the likelihood of knowledge transfer and collaboration. This a stark move away from the more traditional set-ups so typical of the sector.

2. Client concierges are becoming prevalent in London: Now, not only are clients welcomed, presented with coffee and given access to WiFi, but concierges are becoming the new, customer-centric “face” of law firms.

3. Firms are turning away from “all work, no play” pasts: A Washington law firm has pioneered the use of a ping pong table to help ease long working hours. Another, based in New York, has installed its own wood-fired oven so clients and staff may enjoy freshly-cooked pizza. These strategies are created to make these firms stand out from the competition and entice the top talent.

4.  Family and legal careers are no longer mutually exclusive: One London law firm looking to retain its top talent has introduced an “office shed” that can be installed at home in an employee’s back garden so that lawyers do not always have to commute in to the office.

5. Address is becoming part of brand strategy: One example given in the survey is of a prominent Vancouver law firm, which has relocated its office to a “coveted downtown address”, shaking up many other parts of the sector. This move is intended to give the idea that “the company is progressive, modern and adaptable to the trends and changes within the legal profession”.

So what next for these working environments? Instead of upholding the traditional practices they have held for so long, it seems that firms are increasingly making decisions to be bold and break out of the mold – be that with technological advances, by practicing new super-specialisms or even through the evolution of their workspaces.