Key considerations when making an educated decision about your law firm’s office accommodations
Many organizations are creating new workplace environments that use real estate more efficiently and Law Firms are no exception. New metrics show a decline of more than 70 rentable square feet per attorney since 2000. The most recent recession has caused, or at least accelerated, the evaluation by law firms of how they utilize leased space. Whether your firm is “Big Law” or “Boutique” the impact of technology, changing demographics and the desire to preserve profit margins with downward pressure on fees is placing a premium on getting the most out of your real estate.
Business & Operational Needs
Contractual and operational flexibility of space is arguably the most important consideration for a new office space, primarily due to the potential headcount fluctuations over the life span of the office. This might involve a more flexible space plan and securing expansion/contraction rights to be exercised in the middle of of a lease term.
Your organizational brand
The building outlook and the fit-out of your office speak volumes about your organization. Getting this right from the outset is paramount and could save the law firm a significant amount of up front capital.
Employee satisfaction and retention
The firm’s location relative to others can lead to greater market presence and an increase in staff morale and productivity, ultimately making the firm more profitable and sustainable as a business over the longer term.
Negotiability of rentals and incentives are highly dependent on the equilibrium in the subject market. Vacancy of each building and the landlord’s portfolio exposure to potential future vacancy all effect the terms and therefore the cost implications of each office space.
Fit-out and reinstatement costs
Entry and exit strategies to a contract can also greatly affect the real cost of your commitment. Workplace design and fit out costs should be viewed as an organizational opportunity – a well-planned space and executed fit-out will adapt to your organization’s growth, changing needs and minimize churn costs.
When should I start?
Plan, plan, plan
Business continuity is the key when exploring your office leasing options, and therefore knowledge is key. Allow sufficient time to ascertain your current situation, review options and assess the marketplace context to ensure you optimize the end result.
The period required to conduct this process for a law firm depending on the firm size, typically takes between six to twelve months.