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The Stuffiest Of Occupier Sectors Is Embracing AI And It Means They Need Less Space


Almost half of London law firms are using artificial intelligence in their business and it means they are likely to need less office space.

According to a survey by CBRE of 100 law firms, 48% of law firms are already using AI and a further 41% have imminent plans to do so.

Of the firms already employing AI, 63% are using it for legal document generation and review, and the same proportion for e-discovery. Due diligence (47%) and research (42%) were also common applications, along with compliance and administrative legal support (each 32%).

Almost 45% said this means they will employ less staff, particularly at junior levels.

This reduction in headcount is combining with an increase in agile workplace strategies, and CBRE said there are clear signs the traditional partner’s office culture is declining among law firms, with 33% now in more open or activity-based working environments. That figure is likely to increase, it said, with law firms having been among the slowest to embrace modern working practices.

In total, the CBRE Legal 100 occupy almost 10M SF, spending a total of £495M/year on rent, up 6.2% from 2013 and representing an average of £49.41/SF, compared to £43.51/SF five years earlier.

“Our study found considerable uncertainty around the impacts of AI on employment, reflected by more than 30% who were unsure of the potential impact at each level,” CBRE Senior Director of Central London Tenant Advisory Frances Warner Lacey said. “This will make formulating a dynamic real estate strategy, to cope with these structural changes to the sector, particularly problematic for law firms.”