Downsizing Without Downside: The New Law Office

All business managers look for overhead efficiencies, and legal practice managers are no exception. They’re reducing their real estate costs by thoughtfully combining new technologies with modern design styles and innovative space planning. Liam La Guerre, writing in the Commercial Observer, relates how several New York City law firms have successfully scaled back their office space footprints without creating a work-environment downside.

Among the space-efficient techniques La Guerre cites are:

  1. The wide-open floor design of newer buildings. The lack of columns permits complete use of all the area on a floor, so firms can accommodate more staff in less overall space.
  2. Flexible space utilization and furnishings. Common areas such as conference rooms and reception areas are used for a variety of purposes, and flexible furnishings are removed or rearranged easily to fit the immediate use. (See our previous discussion of reconfigurable furnishings here.)
  3. Tech-savvy millenials. The new generation of lawyers needs less tech support and fewer assistants, reducing staffing needs and their space requirements.
  4. Digital technology. Law libraries and legal documents are moving into the digital realm, and support functions like accounting are moving off-site into less-expensive quarters, thanks to digital connectivity.

Law firms will always have certain fixed needs for offices and closed doors to preserve client confidentiality, but with these new spatial efficiencies, some firms are already discovering they can downsize without any downside.

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