Law Practice Management

Law Offices Opt for Smaller Spaces and 'More Basic' Appointments

Law firms are shrinking in more ways than one.

Law firms are shedding employees, and their office spaces are getting smaller, causing a glut of space for rent. A report by real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle found that more than 6 million square feet of built-out law firm office space is available, the National Law Journal reports. That’s bad news for law firms looking to sublet and good news for firms seeking a new home or additional space.

Thomas Doughty, chairman of the law firm group at Jones Lang, told the National Law Journal that the glut is caused by law firms that have closed, downsized or relocated into new buildings. “I can’t recall there ever being this much” space available, he said.

But downsizing isn’t the only reason that law firms are shopping for smaller spaces, according to Dale Lewis, vice president at Carter commercial real estate company. “Space efficiency is in,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Atlanta real estate veteran Ben Raney, who is representing Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker in a search for office space, told the Journal-Constitution that technology is helping law firms downsize. “Law libraries have slipped from spacious digs to online only,” he said. Lawyers do more work on their laptops, so space for a large administrative staff can be cut. And lawyers using technology to work at home part-time are able to share work space with colleagues.

Mark Rusche, who heads Alston & Bird’s search for new space in Atlanta, told the Journal-Constitution that lawyers’ offices will likely be more understated than spaces for client meetings.

“That space will become more efficient and will be decorated and appointed in a more basic manner,” Rusche said. “The work spaces that we design will be much more adaptable and flexible.”

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