Tenant Transformations: Why Law Firms Finally Adopted Creative Office
According to Cushman & Wakefield executive director and tenant rep specialist David Findling, the legal field is breaking away from the “hierarchy of space” culture of the past and adopting more open and collaborative spaces.
David, who is an active member of the firm’s Legal Sector Advisory Group, says the trend was brought about by new technology, a changing workforce and the recession. In the wake of the financial crisis, for example, many firms had to take a hard look at their staff and space numbers and find ways to cut costs while remaining efficient.
Now, firms are recruiting younger attorneys straight out of law school who, while cheaper, are looking for firms with a greater work-life balance. And with new technologies, lawyers can work, access their libraries and records, and self-perform countless clerical activities from anywhere.
“A lawyer out of the office can be just as productive as one in the office,” David says. “As opposed to the one secretary for every lawyer, you’ll instead see one secretary for every five, six or seven lawyers.”
With all of these changes, new law spaces are warmer and feature multipurpose rooms for both meetings and entertainment and lounges with TVs for breaks and meetings with clients.
Although they’re not the first industry to follow the creative office trend, David says law firms are adopting the change wholeheartedly. Many firms are even making historically taboo changes, such as giving partners and associates same-size offices.
“A person who comes in two days a week,” David says, “isn’t going to care how big his office is in comparison to their neighbor.”
The age gap between staff and the greater flexibility and mobility that newer employees desire has done away with the hierarchy of space, and we’re going to see more law firms making the change.