Corner Offices Are Out; Collaboration Is In. Say Hello to the New Law Firm.

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There was “a lot of interior space and very little access to natural light,” said Kelley M. Bender, the firm’s chief operating partner. And retrofitting the old offices for current technology, including that needed for hybrid meetings, would be difficult.

The firm also acknowledged that the work force had changed, requiring less space. Lawyers who commit to returning to work three days of week are assigned their own offices; those who don’t still have office space, “but not necessarily one with their name on the door,” Ms. Bender said.

Chapman’s decision was in keeping with others in the Chicago market, said Daniel Arends, the chairman of the law firm services group at Colliers, a real estate services firm. He added that in the past nine years, 33 law firms had downsized by an average of 33.53 percent.

Since the pandemic, firms are focusing more on features like air filtration and acoustics, which have become particularly important with the increase in hybrid meetings. And in addition to the emphasis on expansive windows, there’s more interest in improved artificial lighting; architects and designers are more likely to incorporate direct, ambient and task layers, said Sherry Banaei, an architect and creative director at Studio Alliance, a design firm in Washington.

Benches are uncommon — lawyers, after all, must retain confidences, and privacy is harder to control in open spaces. But other office design elements, like wellness areas, have become popular. And recreation has come to the fore: Few will own up to adding a foosball table, but Venable does have a regulation bocce ball court in its Washington office.

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