14 April 2021

The inevitable physical reconversion of law firms


New trends in office space indicate that law firms are increasingly fitting out their offices for coworking and client meetings, or dispensing with office space altogether

Firms that have established a "hybrid" teleworking model are the biggest promoters of office refurbishment. With fewer lawyers on the premises, firms' management feel that they need to be more focused on one-off meetings. For many firms, solo practices are gone for good.

In an article published by Hogan Lovells [1], Maria Deledda, councel of the international firm, comments on new trends and renewal in new offices. These new trends, according to Deledda, will be based on two concepts: flexibility and "hybridization"

Hybrid models aim to allow lawyers to work several days of the week from home, and other days from the office. This model, so innovative in the legal sector, implies a technological improvement and development in such a way that lawyers can work with several computers and use the same tools on all of them. 

Both of these trends also imply a strong change in corporate culture. Above all, flexible working means that many meetings are conducted over the Internet, and this can undermine trust and clarity of communication between professionals

Teleworking has some benefits for the firm and for lawyers. In addition to saving costs and time commuting to the office or to meetings, a large majority of workers are happier working from home, according to a study by Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. [2], while when asked about productivity, there is a 50-50 split between workers who feel they are more productive working from home and those who feel the opposite. 

Returning to Deledda's comments, the legal sector is undergoing a real reconversion, where logistics is becoming vitally important for law firms as they see how their clients - and their clients - adapt to the new digital era, investing in technology and training their employees in high-tech programmes. 

Law firms have shown us that they are open to change, there is no doubt about that.

Kristin Cerutti, designer at Nelson Worldwide, sees law firms adapting to new social changes: 

"The future of law firm design is about enabling the inevitable changes facing our society, making work life more fluid for lawyers, finding creative solutions to occupancy issues, and designing with employee wellbeing at the forefront of it all."

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