As a firm, we pay close attention to the latest design trends and are constantly conducting industry research in order to offer contemporary and creative design platforms for our clients to explore. Our experience working within the legal industry has therefore helped us identify and define four emerging law firm design trends.
1. A greater focus on reception areas and conference centers to attract clients
Overall, the most strategic place of focus in law firm design has shifted from the private office to reception areas and board rooms, as these spaces are being used as tools to attract clients. Upscale lounge areas, impressive reception lobbies, multi-purpose rooms, and fully wired conference centers are becoming the focal points of law firm design. In addition, we have found that these areas are making up the largest portion of our design plans.
2. Less private spaces and shift to collaborative workplace
The tradition of a firm’s hierarchy being defined by office size is starting to disappear as lawyers spend less time in their personal offices. As these standards change, the size of private offices are decreasing and collaborative spaces are becoming a more integral element of law firm design. Our recent law firm designs have been including more employee lounge areas, collaborative meeting spaces, touchdown spots and impromptu gathering areas.
3. Secretarial pods replace paralegal offices
In the past, the standard lawyer to assistant/secretary ratio was 1:1. However, as a result of today’s technological advancement, one secretary may work for up to six different attorneys. As the need for so many legal secretaries and assistants decreases, so does the need for secretarial space. A new design trend we’ve been working with is incorporating secretarial pods and flexible, mobile workstations that can be occupied by multiple staff members. These allow our clients to re-purpose the space, leading again to a greater focus on communal spaces.
4. Transparency and open lines of site throughout
Transparency and continuous site lines have become other major features in our recent law firm designs. Attorneys are now requesting floor-to-ceiling walls of glass with moderate use of frosting for privacy. The heavy use of glass office fronts not only enhances the transparency of the space, but also opens the entire office providing interior spaces, such as the secretarial pods, access to natural light. Firms are also requesting that the corner spaces, once retained for senior partner offices, now be designated for communal spaces in order to preserve coveted exterior views for clients and collaborative gatherings.
These four law firm design trends are reflections of the trends found in corporate design today; open, collaborative, flexible and focusing on “we” versus “me”. The acceptance and application of these trends within the legal industry is starting to gain momentum and as they become more popular, we are sure to see greater changes and newer trends developing in law firm design.
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