As the cost of real estate and construction costs increase, law firms are increasingly seeking solutions to maximize their space and design efficiently for the future. Advancements in technology and business practices have forced drastic changes in the operations of law firms, increasing the need for firms to remain nimble and flexible. Culturally, law firms are shifting toward workplace strategies that promote communication, foster collaboration, and increase productivity, while enhancing employee satisfaction and the client experience. In response, the following ten drivers are beginning to influence and will continue to shape the future legal workplace.
- Other than salaries, real estate costs are the highest expenditure for law firms, and these costs continue to increase. Thoughtfully designed and employed workplace strategies can affect the bottom line and can be used to maintain margins and a competitive edge.
- Advancing technologies have enabled law firms to work productively across larger geographies. As a result, many larger firms are relocating administrative staff, including I.T. and accounting, to less expensive real estate. Connectivity of these regional offices is essential to business operations and in ensuring those employees feel connected to their organization.
- Firms are under increased pressure to evolve as a new generation enters the workforce seeking a company culture that aligns with their personal goals and beliefs. This new generation is looking for increased transparency, access to partners, and cultures that value and promote sustainable practices.
- Because clients rarely follow a nine to five schedule, neither can their attorneys. An office designed with the right technology and tools for communication is critical in providing superior service and legal guidance. This is especially true for firms operating with international, national, and regional locations.
- Although law-firm office planning has historically been dictated by employee tenure and title, this inflexible model has caused costly growing pains in an ever-changing world. A more uniform approach to office planning has become popular as many firms have realized the benefits and decreased costs associated with flexibility in their workspaces.
- Clients’ expectations are shifting from the value of a single lawyer to the impact their collective legal team can provide. To foster teamwork, workspaces must allow for properly allocated and designed team spaces for increased efficiency, collaboration, and synergy.
- As the need for collaborative space increases, quiet focus areas remain critical to the nature of a law firm’s business. While many professional service companies have moved away from a more traditional enclosed perimeter office model, confidentiality and employee retention / recruitment concerns mean the private office is here to stay for the majority of law firms in America and abroad.
- With increased demand from existing staff and new employees, many firms are providing tools and features to promote wellness and employee productivity. Environments that provide maximized access to daylight and views, while promoting stair use and healthy eating habits, positively impact human health and happiness.
- Amenity spaces attract and retain top talent, enhance the employee and client experience, and boost company culture within law firms. Our experience and research have shown that these community-focused spaces including roof terraces, fitness centers, coffee bars, and full-service cafes, promote employee wellness and greater team collaboration.
- A law firm’s office environment should establish or reinforce the firm’s brand and in turn display an identity and culture. A well-established and distinguished brand can be an invaluable tool for recruitment, retention, and to foster a greater connection with a firm’s clientele and staff.
These key drivers are reshaping the legal landscape as we know it. Keeping them top of mind will help support client needs and business efforts in the coming years.