How the design of a law firm can affect lawyers and their clients

How the design of a law firm can affect lawyers and their clients

Dan Cox, director of commercial interiors at Carr Design Group, and Jim Holding, managing partner of DLA Piper in Brisbane, discuss the impact effective building design can have on the operation of a law firm.

What is the theory behind creating office spaces that employees and clients want to spend time in?

Dan Cox (DC): The workplace environment is the physical manifestation of a firm’s culture and brand. It can enhance the attraction and retention of best talent within the legal sector.

The legal sector has become fiercely competitive. While a firm may have the necessary knowledge and expertise that clients are seeking, cultural alignment is also becoming increasingly important in the decision of selecting the right practice. With clients spending increasing amounts of time in your workplace, there is an opportunity to enhance communication and expose them to better understand your business from within.

There is a human need in ‘belonging’ and to have pride in where you choose to work. The work environment can make the team feel nourished, to work more effectively with the result boosting productivity. Through communal environments such as cafes and lounges, designers are able to blend hospitality and residential thinking to add comfort and create a sense of calm. This is especially important within the legal sector where often the work day is longer than in other professions.

Jim Holding (JH): DLA Piper’s move onto a large, single floor at 480 Queen in Brisbane has provided a more flexible, innovative and collegiate working environment for us, while the office design itself reflects both the global nature of DLA Piper’s business and unique elements inspired by the city of Brisbane. We’ve created an open plan, collaborative workplace environment which will enable our people to provide the best possible support to our clients, both now and in the future. It will help us improve our productivity and also create a better learning environment.

How can law firms assess the benefits of this approach in terms of increased output and overall costs?

DC: The key measures would be:

  • productivity effectiveness
  • reduced team attrition rates
  • reduced operating hours of the physical environment
  • employee wellness

Essentially, a place where you flourish, enabled by proximity of teams in the workplace ignites innovation.

JH: An efficient, welcoming and well-planned workplace supports both the firm’s clients and its people. Costs can be measured through traditional metrics such as average space occupied per person and average cost per sqm, but output is a more subjective measure. Staff surveys can be one way to assess how wel

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