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Stimulate and strengthen work culture

As businesses across the country continue to structure and restructure their return-to-office plans, some law firms are already a few steps ahead of the pandemic, in order to facilitate meaningful cultural change within their organizations. Implementing progressive design solutions long ago. A thoughtfully considered office has the power to truly change the tide, and a successful redesign starts with just one question:

“What are we going to the office for?”

If a company can answer this, often with in-depth workplace research and the help of an experienced design firm, the resulting office will have a wider range of values, including fairness, brand identity, well-being and flexibility. It can be a means to an end. The impact of such spaces is significant as many companies grapple with how to encourage employees to return to the office.

By driving new designs that provide meaningful amenities, focusing on well-being-first strategies to support the entire workforce, and adopting an equitable approach to spatial design, we are making our offices accessible to lawyers and staff. Make it a place you choose to work as part of your job. hybrid mix.

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Flexibility

Space programming should lead the office redesign. This is because the composition of the square footage depends on how each company wants to work within the space. Flexibility is at the forefront of these decisions, as many law firms are rethinking existing spaces and, in some cases, downsizing post-COVID-19.

Privacy and physical division of space to maintain confidentiality are standard necessities in law firms, creating unique flexibility challenges. Familiar construction methods such as floor-to-ceiling walls, glass film, sound deadening, and corner offices are being replaced with new methods to achieve the same level of discretion, with greater flexibility and fairness . Solutions include creating shared spaces for collaboration. Added universal size office hoteling. Create accessible shared amenity spaces. Move your private office inside to open up natural light to your open workstations.

For example, Hoge Fenton’s new office in San Jose, California will be completed in May 2021. The company’s previous workspace included a large central library that was transformed into a makeshift common area. To capitalize on this organic change and complement employees’ apparent desire to connect and collaborate, the multidisciplinary team at design firm HGA removed obsolete libraries from the previous office program requirements and replaced them with has created a lounge with flexible spaces for group gatherings and meetings. Jigsaw puzzles — Hoge Fenton staff’s favorite activity.

Designing for liquidity was key to the company’s future. That’s why private offices around the floor today include standardized sit-and-stand furniture solutions that flexibly accommodate different work styles. In addition, casual open-address (unassigned) workspaces (from banquet seating to clustered conversation tables) allow for quick meetings or simply a change of scenery. The main meeting room with a glass front can be opened to support large group meetings and create a spacious common area leading to the lobby. Several smaller Zoom rooms and conference call rooms support individual meetings, although they can be split into two medium-sized conference rooms.

The new workplace will be dominated by technology integration, on-demand remote collaboration, and flexible workspaces, encouraging staff to return to the office or choose a hybrid model.

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Located in Sacramento, California, the interior spaces of Dudensing Law leverage existing industrial and architectural features such as high ceilings, wooden beams and columns, exposed ducts, and large windows that flood the interior with natural light. Photo by Chad Davis.

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A carefully curated space program can also support the progress many law firms are making toward developing a truly collaborative culture that brings both inclusiveness and impartiality. Milwaukee’s Andrus Intellectual Property Law wanted to incorporate this framework into his new premier location on the 22nd floor of his BMO tower, which was completed in November 2020. Support spaces are centrally located for access by all staff, regardless of title or tenure.

The equitable design decision extends beyond equal access to views. Such design strategies include:

    • Implement non-tiered spaces. This means eliminating corner offices and moving some offices inside.
    • Designed for choice and neurodiversity. We offer a variety of spaces with varying levels of stimulation, allowing people to choose the type of space that best supports themselves and their work.
    • Adopt an unbiased approach to the design process and include multiple voices to ensure inclusiveness.

Additionally, Andrus prioritized equal access to the stunning views of downtown, wanting office commuters to capture the view as soon as they arrive and have multiple opportunities to share the view together. As such, the front desk is intentionally pushed to one side to allow a clear view of the outside through the full-height glass walls of the conference room. This creates a bright, open and inviting space from the moment everyone steps out of the elevator. Spacious, full-height sidelights along the front of the office provide views and natural lighting for internally placed paralegal stations, so there is a consistent connection to the outside as you move through the space.

brand identity

By subconsciously and thoughtfully agreeing to a company’s brand and culture, you subconsciously instill pride and core values ​​in your employees.

A humble, modern approach to high-end law firm design, the simple, sophisticated walnut wood finish and clean white accentuated by the long, linear details visible on the lighting choices and cabinet pulls In the form it was done for Andrus. Cool grays and warm beiges in the accent paint and carpet soften the space. Plants and artwork add another layer, softening the modern design and creating comfort. Expressed minimally in each space through works, area rugs, paint or fabrics, it is a distinctive pop of color within a timeless and neutral foundation.

Environmentally friendly graphics support your brand. It features his Andrus signature in discreet matte black fixed to a warm wood veneer background. The wood veneer feature introduces an enlarged angled form by introducing a change in plane and grain direction. This is the conceptual representation of the “A” in Andrus’ logo The angled word is further reflected throughout the office, as seen in the painted furling strip pattern, the applied decals, and the beautiful quartz slabs with diagonal grain.

The design team also created custom artwork using historic patents from the Andrus archives for inspiration.

happiness

Over the past decade, clients in the corporate world have developed sophisticated fluency in the language of sustainable and renewable design. Many understand that achieving her LEED or WELL certification for a building is more than achieving energy efficiency or promoting a progressive corporate culture. It’s about attracting top talent and investing in employee well-being.

Wellbeing can also be achieved from the workspace itself. In particular, the location adjacent to desirable equipment plays an important role in supporting employee health. In April 2018, Dudensing Law moved into the new Ice Blocks development in midtown Sacramento, California, a fast-growing area. This is a converted warehouse, transforming a once neglected area into a vibrant urban center featuring live work and retail spaces. As a result, the new office is now surrounded by fitness studios, health food and grocery stores, shopping spots, coffee shops, access to e-bikes, and more.

The interior spaces capitalize on the development’s existing industrial and architectural features with high ceilings, timber-framed beams and columns, exposed ducts, and large windows that flood the interior with natural light. Natural wood surfaces and neutral tones maintain the warehouse aesthetic. Common areas and cafes are placed in the center, and glass-enclosed conference rooms and private offices are placed around. Moving away from formality and prioritizing both comfort and natural light also benefits employee well-being. New shared spaces are part of the reason lawyers are returning to the office post-pandemic.

As the enterprise world lives in an era of hybrid solutions, the intent behind physical space is more important than ever. A thoughtfully designed space that truly meets the professional and personal needs of our attorneys provides a valuable reason to return to the office.


Lisa Macaluso is HGA’s Domestic Interior Design Business Development Leader and one of the Principals of a multidisciplinary design firm based in San Jose, California. She has extensive experience directing programming and strategic office planning for technology, start-up and professional services companies, including law firms. Macaluso leads the design team through all stages of project development to create aesthetically stimulating, functional and sustainable interior her architecture.

Haley Nelson is HGA’s National Interior Design Professional Lead and Senior Interior Designer based out of the company’s Los Angeles office. Her Workplace With her expertise as a designer and strategist, she focuses on developing her unique insights that help create places for people and organizations to thrive. Many of Nelson’s projects have won multiple design and sustainability awards, as well as the highest levels of sustainability and well-being certification.


Mind Your Business is a series of columns written by lawyers, legal professionals, and others in the legal industry. The purpose of these columns is to provide you with information about how lawyers do their jobs, information on the latest trends in legal technology, ways to help lawyers do their jobs more efficiently, and strategies for building a thriving business. To provide practical guidance to lawyers.


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This column reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ABA Journal or the American Bar Association.

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