Law Firms Overrule Traditional Workplace Strategies

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By: Dan Adamski, Managing Director, JLL

Heading into 2016, law firm revenue is climbing. But with new challenges ahead, continued growth will be accompanied by higher rents and dwindling Class A office space in U.S. Central Business Districts. In fact, direct vacancy dipped below the single digits in many mid-sized markets, including Pittsburgh.

While the legal industry has traditionally preferred Class A and Trophy office spaces, law firms are feeling the pressure to seek alternatives. Moving away from downtown areas and into mixed-use spaces, some new-age law offices are even considered “the most efficient workspace designs available,” according to JLL.

Want more law firm insights? Download the full 2015 Law Firm Perspective for more trends and insights, plus statistics from 40 local office markets.

3 Office Trends Reshaping Law Firms

New research suggests law firms are showing interest in core-fringe locations, improving in-office efficiency strategies and updating office layouts. Below are three ways firms are embracing the challenging market ahead, and rethinking workplace design.

  1. More firms look to core-fringe CBD micromarkets. Core-fringe locations have proven attractive to law firms, especially for organizations on the verge of new construction. These markets offer quality, mixed-use and less office-focused spaces in urban settings, while still attaining millennial talent.
  1. Efficiency trumps new construction. Many law firms aren’t interested in new construction or are competing with other high-growth markets for obtaining new space. As an alternative tactic, firms are focusing on improving efficiency within existing workspaces. According to the report, law firms have been relatively stagnant in real estate by comparison to other industries. Research shows 38.7% of law firm activity “represented rightsizing with only 22.4% being expansionary.” In contrast, 75% and 69% of leasing for advertising/marketing and tech industries has represented growth in recent quarters, according to JLL Research.
  1. Technology replaces traditional. The rising cost of real estate and tightening availability aren’t the only factors influencing law firms. New technology and changes in workplace culture have also modernized workplace design. According to the Houston Business Journal, law libraries are becoming obsolete, while productivity, cost savings and client hospitality have become top priorities. Law firms are calling in decorators and workplace design consultants to create inviting, even beautiful, workspaces for their teams and clients.

For more statistics and trends, check out JLL’s new law firm infographic.


For more information about the law firm market in your city, download the full 2015 Law Firm Perspective.

Law Firm Perspective

About the Author 

Dan AdamskiAs Managing Director in JLL’s Tenant Representation Group, Dan is responsible for all client requirements in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
He specializes in Tenant Representation. View Dan’s full bio to read up on his experience.