Business

Law firms are ‘rightsizing’ their office spaces

Space reduction continues to guide the office strategy for the US legal sector, with law firms giving up an average of 17 percent of their space upon relocating in 2014, according to JLL, the commercial real estate services firm formerly known as Jones Lang LaSalle.

So far this year, 15 of the top 17 leasing transactions by US law firms were “rightsizing moves” as firms consistently trim space, JLL noted. A

Photo courtesy of JLL

Lisa Strope

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mong the challenges that the legal industry faces are “fee compression” and changing work styles, the report said.

Generally, law firms have clung to a very traditional approach to “workplace needs and strategy,” but current market conditions, such as a shortage of available office space, may nudge law firms to “mimic workplace strategies of their corporate peers,” JLL said.

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“In Boston, law firms are continuing to rightsize facing the same forces that are driving other professional service firms to be leaner and meaner,” JLL’s New England research manager Lisa Strope said in a statement. “As Boston area law firms are reconfiguring offices to be more in line with trends in the industries they serve, they are looking for flexible, more efficient spaces. Many are considering moves from more traditional and suburban locations.”

Strope added: “Across Massachusetts, legal employment is still down nearly 2,600 jobs from prerecession peaks. In Boston, we have seen a modest decline in legal employment over the past year. However, the intellectual property and corporate law sectors are growing, spurred on by the area’s rise in the high-tech and life sciences fields.”

A recent Globe story noted that Bingham McCutchen LLP, a once-booming Boston law firm, has shrunk in recent years as partners have defected.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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