Remote Work's Potential Impacts on Law Firm Office Space
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a massive shift to remote work across many industries. Law firms were no exception, with most attorneys transitioning to working from home since early 2020. Now, over two years later, the future of office space for attorneys remains uncertain.
On one hand, some major law firms are giving attorneys the flexibility to permanently work remotely or adopt a hybrid schedule. This could significantly reduce the need for office space, as attorneys only come in occasionally. One survey found that over 75% of lawyers would prefer to work from home at least one day per week post-pandemic.
However, many law firms still believe face-to-face collaboration and mentoring are essential. There are also confidentiality concerns around remote work. Numerous firms plan to bring attorneys back into the office full-time or several days per week.
The widespread adoption of remote work could dramatically impact how law firms use office space going forward. Rather than dedicated offices for each attorney, more firms may shift to shared workspaces and hoteling setups that accommodate both in-office and remote staff.
This allows firms to reduce their real estate footprint since attorneys don't need permanent desks. Experts predict many law firms will downsize when office leases expire. Subleasing unused space is another option to cut costs.
The struggles of co-working giant WeWork exemplify the challenges facing commercial real estate. WeWork is reportedly on the verge of bankruptcy and has closed locations across New York City. This could flood the Manhattan market with even more available sublease space as demand from tenants has dropped.
The Rise of Office Sublets for Attorneys
The shift to remote work has led to a surge in office sublets in major cities. Landlords are seeing more spaces sublet as companies reduce footprints. This presents opportunities for attorneys seeking smaller shared law office spaces outside traditional firms.
We are seeing a lot of mature attorneys deciding to retire or semi retire early, post pandemic. Often a senior partner on the "semi" plan will depart the firm but still retain a toe in the water by subletting a nice office to escape to from home and to meet clients.
One example, in a Madison Avenue law firm near Grand Central is an approximately 250 square foot corner office in completely renovated modern law firm space - with room for a large desk, couch with table, and conference table. The firm has numerous conference rooms available on demand, as well as full time professional receptionists to meet and greet. Telephone answering is included in the sublease rent. Views up and down Madison Ave from 2 walls of windows, this is the perfect aerie for a retiring partner that wants to keep on being a valued attorney.
However, the impending demise of WeWork points to an oversupply that could make it difficult for landlords to find tenants to fill all the vacant space. Attorneys looking to sublet may benefit from lower rents and more options available.
LookingForSpace.com provides a platform for companies to list commercial real estate office sublets and executive suites for rent or lease. Attorneys can find fully furnished spaces ranging from private offices to entire floors.
As the legal industry adjusts, LookingForSpace.com offers flexibility for attorneys and law firms to adapt their office footprint efficiently. By facilitating subleases, it helps connect those looking for space with companies that have extra capacity.
The work from home era is reshaping law firm office needs and the commercial real estate landscape. Firms reducing footprints while still retaining some space may be the likely path forward. But the question of how much space is truly required in a hybrid environment remains open.