FULL-SERVICE LAW FIRM SPACE
THE EVOLUTION OF LAW FIRM OFFICES
The modern-day law office has been evolving over the past 30 years, albeit at a pace that is hardly noticeable “in the moment”. But in retrospect, the way law is practiced has changed considerably. We don’t need to go back to the time when attorneys sent written correspondence to the typing pool to get them out to their clients, which could take up to a week, to see these changes.
Only 30 years ago fax machines were replacing mail and courier services as the best way to securely send documents quickly, law libraries were a staple and sense of pride in almost every law firm and having a large office was a show of strength and success. If we think back just a few more years to 1989, that is the year Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.
Over these years the average space allocated per attorney has gone from 1,400 sq. ft. to 700 sq. ft. today, with future target ratios of 400 sq. ft. per attorney. The reasons for the reduction in space per attorney vary, but in general, we can state that office space is expensive and law firms are better served reducing their office costs and allocating those funds to technology, automation tools and compensation.
Law firms are operating more like businesses today. When two firms merge, the bigger question is how to combine the technology they use, with less concern about the physical space they occupy. In fact, it can be argued that their space should have short-term lease terms that are not costly to terminate.
WHAT IS A FULL-SERVICE LAW FIRM SPACE?
So, what exactly is a full-service law firm space today? Let’s break this down to the tools a law firm requires to effectively serve their clients and grow a successful law practice. Of course, this will depend to some extent on the type of law they practice, but in general, most firms require the following:
- A client in-take process
- Support staff
- Practice management software and/or a CRM
- Billing software
- Computers/printers/copiers/mail equipment/phone
- A place to conduct work from
- Space to meet with clients
- A way to connect with potential new clients
- A relationship and account with a financial institution
- And for successful attorneys, a financial planner!
In a full-service law firm space, all of these things are either provided as part of the service or made available through established partnerships with providers that have been vetted and the best possible prices already negotiated on the law firm’s behalf. The law firm is able to use as much or as little of the services as they require. For example, a law firm just opening their doors may use all of these services to get their law firm open quickly, while an established law firm will have many of these services in place and only need to take advantage of a few services occasionally. It all comes down to what works best for each law firm and how they are able to best serve their clients.
"It really has that look and feel of a large law firm."
LAW OFFICES OF MICHAEL BLACK
What are Scalable Office Plans?
SHARED OFFICE SPACE - FOR ATTORNEYS
It is worth noting that in the break down of tools a law firm needs to serve their clients and grow a successful law practice listed above, there is no mention of a large pretentious office space with the firm's name on a wall or lavish offices, for the same reason there is no mention of a typing pool or law library. In the reimagined law offices these things are no longer needed and in many instances are viewed as representing a “stodgy” law firm; one that is not leading their industry and keeping up with the changing times.
In the fight to hire young talent, law firms are implementing remote work policies and showing more flexibility than in the past. Most have already adopted technology that allows them to reduce the need for paper storage in their offices and almost all software applications in use are cloud-based. Yet, with all these changes, for most law firms, the cost associated with office space remains their second largest expense, behind only compensation. To remain a leader in their field, law firms are finding ways to reduce their office expenses, with shared office space; reallocating those resources to better technology and automation that helps them provide industry leading services to their clients.
FLEXIBILITY TO SCALE
Shared office space allows for scalable office plans, such as those offered by Amata Law Office Suites, allowing law firms to associate the expense of an office to each employee. For example, when a law firm hires a new associate, they add an office, knowing exactly what the incremental costs of that office and all other overhead expenses are. If that associate leaves the firm for any reason, that office and the associated costs are terminated. This allows the firm to keep overhead expenses in line with revenues. Scalable office plans turn office space into a service, purchased the same way the law firm purchases the new software licenses the new associate will need to get work done - this is law offices reimagined for today's world.
If the law firm is using the rule of three pricing model to set associate hourly rates, they are now able to predict, with great accuracy, what the overhead costs of hiring a new associate will be, and what revenue that associate will need to generate or account for in order to reach the firm's profit targets.
"They put us in a conference space that was perfect for our needs and they tended to our needs for coffee, for support and were so very professional."
BARON HARRIS HEALY
Conference Rooms and Day Offices
HYBRID OFFICE MODELING
When clients are coming into the office for a meeting or you just need to work out of the office for the day, Amata has a conference room or day office to suit your needs.
Many of the law firms Amata serves are utilizing a hybrid officing model to keep their expenses down and to provide flexibility for the clients. Since some lawyers do not need to come into the office on a regular basis, they no longer maintain the fixed costs of a traditional office space. Instead they maintain a shared office space near their home, using their conference rooms and day offices at Amata for gatherings with their entire law firm, client meetings, or when they need a space to work from occasionally.
Location, Location, Location
CHOOSE A STRATEGIC LOCATION
In a recent study by Thomson Reuters of solo and small law firms, work/life balance was a top priority to attorneys. Deciding where your law offices will be located also plays a huge role in attracting and retaining the best employees. Good location decisions can significantly boost a law firm’s long-term performance.
Amata Law Office Suites continues to expand its physical foot print with new shared office space locations. You can find the current locations here.
If you are looking to have an office in an area we are not currently located, let us know and we will work to make it happen as soon as we can.View All Locations