Say good-bye to mahogany. Say hello to glass.
Last month, the 165 people who work at Nixon Peabody’s Washington office moved into digs that are fairly typical for many of their clients but still unusual for most law firms.
Offices that once felt somewhat isolated are now much more open, with walls of glass instead of wood. And there are no more big corner offices doled out as perks to longstanding partners. All lawyers have the same-sized room.
There’s an emphasis on shared meeting spaces, and on driving the flow of traffic so that colleagues are bumping into, rather than avoiding, one another. There’s also a 16-screen video wall in the lobby, and individual offices have whiteboards so notes and brainstorming sessions can be scribbled on the walls.
And yes, the total space has shrunk to about 65,600 square feet in Washington, compared with 91,200 previously.
Andrew Glincher, the law firm’s Boston-based chief executive, said he began to rethink how the firm uses its space after starting his current job more than four years ago. Partners were out of the office more frequently to meet with clients, so Glincher questioned why some lawyers needed so much space.
“I thought we were wasting funds by having these huge offices that aren’t occupied in the way that they were 10 or 20 years ago,” Glincher said. “Why would anybody just put money into space when you’re not using it? We have to get away from that mentality.”
Glincher found there was more to be gained by switching the approach to offices than just cost savings. He said Nixon Peabody’s DC staffers now work in a more collaborative environment, and he believes the more modern-looking office will appeal to millennials.
Glincher wants to roll out similar changes at each of Nixon Peabody’s 16 offices as leases come up for renewal in the coming years. Next up: Los Angeles.
The Boston office — currently Nixon Peabody’s largest, at 167,000 square feet — is also likely to get a makeover. Glincher said the Summer Street lease will be up in about four years, and the firm could be checking out the market for new space within the next year or two.
Eventually, Glincher expects Nixon Peabody could need half as much space as it uses today.
Jeff Lesk, managing partner at the firm’s Washington office, said some of the Washington office’s 90 lawyers grumbled initially. But now that they’ve moved, he said, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Lesk said he expects clients from the newer tech firms will appreciate visiting a law office with a familiar atmosphere. “It just feels like a more energetic place than our old office did,” he said.