A hierarchical culture steeped in tradition and mystique, hefty hourly fees and operating standards that generated huge file rooms of paper are on the way out. In their place, law firms are introducing standardized offices, digital files, fixed fees and greater transparency in both their procedures and environments.
At the same time, a confluence of disruptors, ranging from artificial intelligence to outsourcing, vastly lowers the cost of delivering legal services, changing the paradigm of law firm operations.
Firm leadership, now often in the hands of business executives instead of managing partners, is under pressure to deliver profits in a highly competitive, greatly accelerated business environment that commands deep industry expertise. Mergers and acquisitions can help firms not only expand geographic and/or practice reach, but also secure an industry niche distinct enough to sustain a practice.
In the meantime, law firms’ top two expenses – people and real estate–keep rising. To gain efficiency, firms seek alternative ways to deliver services and cut fixed costs. Lowering the cost of occupancy presents an opportunity to not only improve the bottom line, but also to create a modern work environment for the future workforce.
To create that optimal workplace, three things must be in balance: people, process and place. Knoll conducted research and spoke to more than a dozen leaders who plan and design law firm offices to learn about challenges and planning strategies for balancing these three elements in the future workplace.