Historically, the legal industry has been much less cost-effective with its use of office space than its corporate peers. But over the past several years, an increasing number of U.S. law firms have begun to view this financial discrepancy as an opportunity to reduce their real estate overhead expenses by lowering the target for total office square footage per attorney.

Industry leaders today are debating what a modern law office should look like, and it seems that Covid-19 has jump-started the pre-existing trend towards downsizing office footprints. Thomson Reuters has recently highlighted this industry trend in a series of blog posts published in Legal Executive Institute.

“All professional services companies who were interested in maintaining or entering into competitive long-term leases for high-quality space in the Denver Metro office market received a rude wakeup call when the coronavirus hit us in March 2020. Law firms were no exception. In fact, we are convinced that the pandemic has changed forever the way law firms will think about their use of office space for business operations, professional collaboration and client interaction,” notes local expert Rob Link, Executive Vice President in CBRE’s Denver Downtown office.

Link has extensive background as an attorney and more than 30 years of commercial real estate experience. He and his tenant advisory colleagues, including Senior Vice President, Ryan Link, are members of CBRE’s Global Law Firm Practice Group. They have completed over 4 million SF of transactions for local, regional and national law firms. Learn more about CBRE’s market perspective in its recent publication, The Law Firm Workplace of the Future.

There is no better time than the present to reimagine what a modern law office should look like. The pandemic taught us that it must be much more than just a conventional office space where employees gather to perform their daily work. It needs to become a more flexible, collegial and cost-effective facility where attorneys and law firm employees, their clients, and their industry and civic partners feel comfortable collaborating remotely and in-person while working within the framework of a rewarding business enterprise that promotes the law firm’s well-defined core values, vision and business purpose.

I look forward to sharing the many valuable lessons I learned from the managerial roles I played during the relocation of three rather unique Denver law firms into newly-constructed office buildings (i.e., Tabor Center – 1984; 1515 Wynkoop – 2009; and 1401 Lawrence – 2016); and the subsequent repurposing of these facilities for two of those fully-operational law offices to meet ever-changing TI and FF&E requirements.