New legal workplace emerging

While top-tier firms in London wheel out executive chefs to impress their clients, Australian firms are more likely to show off with an old-fashioned sausage-sizzle on their back deck

As firm interior design adapts to keep up with the latest technology and work behaviour, lawyers are now being provided with less private space to work in and more shared areas instead.
“There’s a new legal workplace model emerging to provide for teams which are required to be more flexible and mobile,” Kellie Payne, associate director at architectural firm Bates Smart told Australasian Lawyer.  
The latest offices can include extra open-plan team spaces and war rooms as well as places for focussed and quiet work. 
The competitive and prestigious firm headquarters of the 1980s have been left behind, with firms now opting for designs that can better display their brands and culture.
For example, in the new offices of Corrs Chambers Westgarth – the first Australian firm to opt for an entirely open-plan workspace – client feedback has identified the firm as being ‘innovative’ and ‘less-restrained’. 
“In London we see a very different trend emerging.  There’s a race towards luxury – we’re seeing very exclusive things like executive chefs who are brought in to cook for clients,” Payne said.
“However, in Australia the client hosting spaces have a much more Australian manifestation. We’re putting in things like large BBQ areas.”
Both Corrs’ and Clayton Utz’s Sydney offices have large outdoor terraces and barbequeing areas.
The new legal workplace

- Lawyers are increasingly sharing space – since 2007, there has been an 18% transfer from individually-owned to collaborative space. 
- Increasingly firms are creating a more functional and flexible work environment.  This involves reallocation some of the individually owned office space in      favour of shared spaces.
- Technology and workplace innovations are allowing greater flexibility in how and where lawyers work, allowing for greater use of shared space and more flexible in workplace design.

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