As the legal industry clambers back from recession struggles, some ancient staples of the traditional law firm have been offloaded to achieve stability in the new legal landscape.

To combat the 2008 recession, numerous law offices have adapted by implementing new billing schemes, upending old hiring practices, and redesigning the bulk of their client interaction to meet the changing needs of today’s firm. The modern law office has lightened its burden to become more agile in client relations and in winning work.

One newfound competitive advantage in attracting both clients and talent is a bright, modern law office design.

Consultations are no longer an intimidating experience where clients are guided into a dark wood office to await their attorney’s directive. Clients find more trust in an inviting atmosphere, a symbol of the step away from stuffy legal services and obscure hourly billing.

Related to the appeal of an improved atmosphere, many lawyers are finding increased success by incorporating technology and collaborative methods into their workday.

Collaborative practices build collaborative opportunities into the physical workspace. Wider hallways help to establish a new work phenomenon: rather than just hurrying through and excusing themselves to avoid brushing shoulders, employees move comfortably throughout the office which increases opportunities for spontaneous social interaction. Increased interaction builds a sense of community among associates and promotes more generous, efficient usage of staff, interns, and other resources.

Despite the benefits of an open law office floor plan, client-attorney privacy will always be necessary. A solution is to outfit the law office with smaller, private conference rooms off the lobby to accommodate frequent client visits, yet not hinder the ongoing work in common areas by other associates.

In advice to lawyers who seek to hang out their own shingle, Nathaniel Burney of The Criminal Lawyer (a well-regarded professional blog in the legal field), recommends:

“There are some expenses that are necessary. Office space is one of them. Don’t work out of your house. It turns off potential clients, and it kills one of the greatest sources of new clients: interaction with other lawyers. So rent a desk in a suite of other lawyers. Not only will you look more professional and attract more clients, you’ll have access to actual lawyers who might let you help out with a case or two, who might even refer cases to you.”

Burney’s advice highlights the importance of how workspace and coworker interaction benefit an attorney at any stage of his or her career. The appearance of your office suggests a measure of success and also results in a calculable enhancement to productivity.

With a down economy, many businesses are forced to cut back, move away from traditional offices, and consolidate to a smaller, more efficient footprint, fewer floors mean more collaboration.

Discover more of the task-effectiveness insights that workplace researchers have gleaned by observing how successful legal offices have restructured since 2007.

How many ways could your office profit from this research?

Learn more. Read through our free white paper, A New Legal Brief.

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