Small legal office space can be subleased in New York at competitive rentals. The benefits of shared legal office space include a lower overhead when the shared amenities are taken into consideration, as well as the benefits of working with a diverse group of attorneys, rather than working alone.
Small or solo has been the way to go for many attorneys for a very long time - however things in Manhattan started changing dramatically in the 1990's when landlords reached to consolidate smaller units into larger spaces. The impetus was a desire to work with fewer entities on the assumption that larger entities on the lease were more reliable than smaller entities - and we all know what eventually happened with that!
Our society as a whole seems more oriented towards collaboration - and with that comes an increase in collaborative office arrangements and collaborative office design. While all law firms are seeking design features that will let them shrink their footprint while adding to their headcount - there is one new type of officing that we're not sure will ultimately catch on in a big way - Co-Working.
We have seen several instances of law firms adopting Co-Working setups for their newly hired Millennials. Common wisdom would tell us that Millennials were raised with collaboration in mind, and that the Co-Working environment perfectly suits there sensibilities and expectations - however the question remains unanswered as to whether or not a group of attorneys working together in one room can effectively and appropriately administer the demands of the profession.
We have historically seen "factory" applications where groups of low level attorneys (or paralegals) can be gathered in a single location to "process" portions of a matter where privacy or enhanced security is not required. However, for all matters concerning face to face client contact, a Co-Working area would be inappropriate. Client meetings for a Co-Worker must take place in the appointed conference or meeting rooms within the law office space. It is safe to assume in this situation that the client never actually sees where the attorney works - so they are shielded from what currently could be an uncomfortable admission of group occupancy. However, that is not to say that as the trend catches on and gains momentum that it won't be completely accepted at a level where clients can actually be interviewed and attorney/client meetings can actually take place in the Co-Working space. It depends, on the level of security or privacy required.
Established legal professionals of a "certain age", have the group expectation of performing their duties from a private office with a window and a locking door. Further, most of their established clients probably have the same expectation - for baby boomers whether attorney or client, they grew up with the idea of an attorney's office as a single room with heavy wood furniture and a big wood door. Now of course that design specification has been modernized considerably, and most new building installations for legal tenants incorporate modern lines, glass walls and in many cases, exposed ceilings along with current design sensibility. But, attorneys generally occupy offices and paralegals and legal secretaries occupy workstations. That is both the expectation and the practice for the majority of legal professionals and their client base.
By the year 2020, fifty percent (50%) of the U.S. workforce will consist of millennials. We see a tremendous surge of Co-Working facilities that seems to predominantly accommodate the millennial workforce - so it stands to reason that the amoutn of Co-Working space will only increase as time passes, because it caters to that community and age group. But, it remains to be seen if the growth of Co-Working suites in the U.S. can be correlated with a growing number of young attorneys working within their firms from a space designed for Co-Working.