There is a national trend for law firms to reduce their per employee allocation of space - or "footprint" overall, by eliminating library space by using automated libraries and online services, reducing document storage areas by scanning, shrinking cubicles for support staffers, and outsourcing some back office operations to less expensive real estate markets.
This trend falls in line with the overall pattern of U.S. offices trying to reduce the impact of rents that have increased dramatically during the last lease cycle over the past 5 years. The best way to reduce the impact of higher rents for firms that must be located in the central business district, is to reduce the size of the footprint of the office by space reduction and increase in overall efficiency.
However, there does not seem to be a trend towards the hoteling, coworking or benching alternatives adoped by many TAMI Tenants, and other business firms as well. The basic confidentiality model of the attorney-client relationships almost demands that attorneys and the matters they are working on can be secured behind closed doors. For this reason the individual office for attorneys is not going away anytime soon.
The historical average for sq. ft. per attorney was about 950 sq. ft. during the time when it was important to show your clients how big your office was. That has been reduced to about 750 sq. ft. per attorney today and most of the larger firms are striving to reduce that further, to about 650 sq. ft. per attorney.
Lawyers offices are a bit smaller - but so are the cubicles occupied by support staff. We all seem to get along with this change - once the tighter area is gotten used to - and it doesn't seem to effect productivity at all. For the most part I think that legal clients appreciate the cost cutting efforts that law firms employ to contain their hourly billing. This efficiency probably makes the client more comfortable with the firm's practice when the office size doesn't involve "showing off".
This trend is described very well in an article published on October 24th in Bisnow.
Another way to reduce the impact of office space cost on the bottom line is to sublease extra, vacant offices to other attorneys who are interested in sharing space and the provided amenities with another (often larger) law firm. Sharing legal office space with other attorneys is another way to become more efficient.
If your firm has any vacant offices and you would like to sublease them to another attorney, you can make direct principal to principal contact with other attorneys who are looking for space online, by adding your listing to the lookingforspace.com database. Please send us an Email if you need any creative or technical help with your listing.
The quickest method is to click on the "Add Your Listing" link at the top of this page in the navigation bar. Make sure your correct Market (City) is chosen to reflect the correct monthly listing fee which varies in different cities. Your listing should attract attorneys that are good candidates from a personality and professional standpoint - and you will be able to evaluate who is the best candidate to share space with your firm. CONTACT US if you have any questions or concerns.