Workplaces in the legal sector are entering a new exciting era of change. The traditional workplace is slowly becoming a thing of the past as offshore outsourcing, technology and working flexibility replace the old traditions of local paralegal support, an over dependence on paper, and fixed ways of working. Four generations of lawyers are now working side by side in the workplace, as many legal professionals work beyond retirement age and the younger legal generation come through.
Legal workplaces now have to blend the old with the new and the role of the design and construction team is to respond intelligently to this change.
As recently as 5 years ago the larger legal practices in Australia still had a propensity for housing their partners in cellular offices, all of exacting and equal proportion, with a heavy focus on storage. Everyone had a fixed desk and anything requiring a team or project approach would simply take over one of the meeting rooms, which typically were not designed for this task.
Back then, the role of the design and construction team building a new office fit out was a clear and well travelled path, it was all about building lots of partners offices dominated by storage, and sound proofing them. Forward thinking practices are now considering the Gen Y and Gen Z workforce of the future. Legal firms have to balance the traditions and status of their experienced partners with the need for a workplace for the future. In addition, legal fit outs are increasingly being built with health and well being in mind, along with facilities to respond to overnight working, added flexibility, bespoke collaborative areas and the like.
This trend has given the design and construction team a different and more challenging destination to navigate towards, but an exciting one where the future is overlaying the century old traditions of the past.