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6 Office Design Factors for Law Firms

Legal Sector Office Design


Is your law office outdated, but your partners are resisting attempts to change? Perhaps your office lease is ending and you know you need to move, but you're not sure where to start. If this sounds like you, you're not alone. We regularly speak to law firms who know their office design needs improving, but they don’t know how or where to begin.

 

Law is a conservative sector, and the approach to office design is no different. However, given the changes caused by hybrid working, your company (and your office) needs to evolve to keep up.

 

We've been designing and building offices in London and across the UK for 16 years, and we specialise in the legal and financial industries. We've worked with some of the world's most prestigious law firms on a confidential basis. This experience has given us a unique insight into the office design needs of law firms.

 

In this article, we'll go through the 6 most important things you need to think about when redesigning your law office. By the end, you'll be able to relocate or refurbish your law office, knowing how to work with your designer to make the best possible design.

 

1) Privacy

Client confidentiality is a fundamental part of law practice. As a result, it's an equally fundamental part of your office design. All your partners and staff will be dealing with highly sensitive and confidential information in the same space. You can't afford lapses in privacy.

 

To ensure your new office is confidential, you can install slab-to-slab partitions with soundproof material to ensure acoustic privacy. To further improve soundproofing, you could install a sound masking system. A secure online data storage system could also reduce the need to for physical document storage, improving privacy.

 

2) Quality

Your law firm employs highly trained and skilled professionals. They need a high-quality work environment to match that. A high-quality workspace will improve the satisfaction of your partners. It will also be a powerful tool to help attract and retain the best legal talent. A high-quality office is not only about the finishes and aesthetic design. It covers the entire office, including location, layout, finishes, furniture, and amenities.

 

A good place to start is by reviewing your current office. Is it high quality, or is it not good enough? Perhaps it is worn, and certain elements need refurbishing or replacing. For your new office, you should work with your interior designer to ensure a suitable specification. This will require a bigger initial cost outlay. However, it will prove a good investment due to improvements in staff productivity, as well as talent attraction & retention.

 

3) Functionality

Your office isn't just somewhere for your staff to work. It is a strategic asset that can help you maximise the performance of your partners and staff. However, if your layout is obsolete or irrelevant, it will be harming their performance. Your office needs to suit the way your people work.

 

Your company and staff are unique, so your office needs to be too. However, as a law firm, this will mean you need confidential client meeting suites, focussed areas for casework, and collaborative areas for your partners to network.

 

 If you operate a hybrid working model, you should adapt your layout accordingly, Partners will spend their remote time on individual work, so you will need less individual working space in your office. By creating a functional layout, you will ensure your workspace is a contributing asset, rather than an idle expense.

 

4) Client Experience

One of the most important ways that your office design will affect your company is the experience it provides for your clients. When your clients visit your office to discuss their case with their lawyer, your office will have a big impact on how they perceive your company. That impression needs to be the right one.

 

To ensure that you're creating the optimal client experience in your office, consider how each part of your office design affects their experience. This goes beyond the furniture and finishes, including the location and layout. It even comes down to the small things like the coffee. It all plays a part, so you need to make sure it's considered in your office design.

 

You could create a designated "front of house" area where partners can meet their clients. This would prevent each partner from requiring their own client facilities, saving a lot of space and cost.

 

5) Communication


Convenient communication between partners (and all your other staff) is essential. It improves the quality and speed of your client services. It also plays a crucial role in training and improving junior staff. Your office can facilitate this by providing environments that enable and encourage communication.

 

To maximise communication in your office, it's essential for partners to spend time outside their own office. They may not even need their own private space. Having plenty of breakout spaces where partners can dine and relax will help keep them within your office. This will allow them to network and communicate more on an informal basis. Dedicated collaboration and training spaces will also encourage more open communication.  

 

6) Flexibility

The importance of flexibility in your legal office design is often overlooked, but that doesn’t make it any less important. The needs of your firm and partners will evolve, requiring different things in your workspace. In addition, every partner and every case is different, and your office needs to cater to them all.

 

Getting input from your partners will help ensure that your office is functional and meets their needs. A variety of client, collaboration, and focussed spaces will allow them to work in an environment that best suits their needs. Modular furniture can also allow your people to adapt individual spaces to suit their needs. What exactly is right for you will depend on your specific requirements, but you can't afford to overlook flexibility.

 

Improving Your Office

As a law firm, you are very dependent on the satisfaction and retention of your partners, as well as the quality of your client experience. This means your office design has a significant impact on the performance of your business.

 

Your office is so much more than somewhere for your staff to work. It's a strategic asset to maximise partner performance, upskill junior staff, and provide industry-leading service. By redesigning your office according to these 6 factors, you can access these benefits for your own firm.

 

To learn more about designing your office, download the definitive guide to office design. There, you'll learn everything you need to know about redesigning your office before you reach out to a designer. This includes processes, costs, timelines, factors for success, and common mistakes to avoid. Download your office design guide here.

 

To keep learning about office design, read Why Office Design Matters and 5 Ways to Optimise Your Office Design.

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