What does it take to make a great law office – apart from the lawyers?
We’re talking design here – the features that will make fee earners, support staff and clients love your firm.
Lawyers and other professional service providers are now seeking to make their offices more like their progressive clients. Mixing new generations in the legal workforce, as well as generating teamwork and productivity, law firms are beginning – at last – to push the boundaries of design.
Our researchers examined recent law office design from around the legal world and found these 7 key features were vital if you want to make your law office ‘fly’.
1. Multipurpose work space
The ability to use work spaces for different purposes has enabled firms to provide non-assigned seating arrangements and a flexibility that better suits the current technology trends, as well as the need for face-to-face meetings.
While some lawyers are reluctant to give up their private offices, the increasing trend is for multipurpose spaces that can be used for multimedia presentations, private consultations or casual socialisation space.
Similarly the the use of oval-shaped office desks permits an easier ability to accommodate 4-6 people, as well as the use of adjustable tables for standing desks and standing meetings.
2. Optimizing Space: Less is More
Real estate is expensive, particularly in downtown premises, and law offices have seen the need to properly optimize their space with better layout and design so as to permit more people in an open environment.
With an eye to the more critical client’s view of what they are paying for, the lawyers are increasingly using space that is smart, modern and clean rather than luxurious, fusty and stuffy.
The need to provide flexibility within the space to accommodate shifting requirements, mobile workers and maximise the use of new technology has added weight to the space optimization argument.
Less is more.
3. Flexibility Rules: Multiple uses
The ability to create flexible spaces is one of the key trends that have developed in global law office design.
Law offices need to ‘fit’ the different work undertaken by different lawyers, while at the same time developing an collaborative, interactive experience for everyone, largely through the use of multi functional spaces within the office.
Productivity is increased as a result of both technology and flexible work spaces that maximise the use of the work places, as well as creating a variety of spaces that “blend and bend”, as one designer told us.
Increasingly used is modular components that can be mixed and altered and generally moved about to create maximum flexibility.
The development of cafe-style or homelike spaces help develop communications within teams and at the same time developing functionality and fun in the office.
4. Bringing the Home and Outdoors to the Office
Introducing elements of home and the outdoors, including concrete floors, exposed brickwork, reclaimed wood panels and other natural elements are part of the trend towards the
The ability to generate a more casual environment – away from the usual law firm design vernacular – has seen an increasing move towards spaces that are more comfortable and relaxed.
As one international designer, Jeff Miller, said the spaces are the antithesis of the rigid workstations, as technology has untethered the workplace and permitted spaces were casual conversation and work can still involve high productivity.
Increasingly, offices include dedicated lounge areas that make ‘working’ more enjoyable and collaborative.
5. Tech-Friendly Collaboration – New age functionality
The importance of technology has worked more than any other factor to shape and influence how lawyers work and where they work also.
Technology affords lawyers the ability to work anywhere at any time, leading to on-demand collaboration between employees.
Creating casual areas that support impromptu encounters, space for smaller work groups and virtual work has been a critical factor in office design with the use of hot desks, multiple meeting areas, functional and even fun places within the office environment that permit lawyers to use laptops and other devices to work.
The recognition of mobile technology and the development of the paperless office are among the key drivers in modern law office design, helping to drive a re-evaluation of how space is used and pushing the development of new strategies in office design.
6. Glass Walls – Let the Light Shine In
7. The Cafe Feel – The Hospo Touch
The result is lounge-like seating, exposed walls and ceilings, contemporary lighting, unique furnishings.