Real estate expense is one of a law firm’s biggest expense costs. In top real estate markets such as New York or Washington D.C., rent for a large law firm can top $1-2 million a month.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in an effort to cut costs, many law firms are giving themselves space-maximizing makeovers. They are shrinking private offices, swapping out walls for glass, and installing high-tech meeting rooms in dead space once occupied by law libraries and filing cabinets.
One tactic is to optimize formally dead space to increase productivity. Attorneys are increasingly working in teams that require collaboration across practice floors and offices. Break areas are designed to lure lawyers out from their desks, installing sleek cafeterias to double as meeting spaces.
Improved technology has eliminated the need for individual offices. Wireless networks allow lawyers much more freedom. With fully wired workspaces, lawyers can now access documents in the break room, mid-discussion with a colleague rather than having to go back to their desk.
Keeping with the theme of collaboration, as group areas expand, individual offices have shrunk by 20-25%. Holland & Knight LLP for example, replaced corner offices with lounge-like meeting areas. Partners and associates occupy the same size offices, their titles the only difference between them.
Instead, glass walls and partitions are the new office layout. Switching to more open layouts helps collaboration across the entire office and cuts costs. To maintain a level of privacy, some firms will equip offices with white noise for sonic privacy or use soundproof glass walls.
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