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Study: law firms reexamining space needs. (Insiders Outlook).

The legal industry is changing and evolving at a pace never before seen, and in the face of rapid change, law firms are in the process of redefining business practices to compete in the global economy.

A recent survey of the legal sector conducted by Julien J. Studley, Inc. revealed that the rise in mergers and acquisitions coupled with the legal industry's increased focus on minimizing costs and maximizing efficiencies has redefined the way law firms conduct business. The upsurge in the use in technology has also had a dramatic impact on law firms in terms of gross expenditure for increased staffing, equipment and the expanded use of outside resources, such as the outsourcing of IT and document management.

Studley's National Benchmark Survey of law firms across the country collected substantive data on key areas most affected by shifts in the legal industry: a firm's overall business climate, the expanded role of technology and the evolution of office design and space planning.

The survey also found that the traditional views of office space are becoming more fluid as law firms focus on more flexible and efficient office layouts featuring smaller offices and more centralized facilities.

International firms, national firms and local firms were most likely to report having merged in the last two years. Regional firms were the least likely to report mergers. Among international firms, 38% reported having merged or having been acquired.

Law firms have dramatically changed the way they are planning and utilizing office space. As a result, firms are seeking more creative office space alternatives to better complement their need for a more efficient and forward-thinking office environment. One major trend revealed that 55% of international firms and 43% of national firms reported allocating 800 SF or more per attorney. However, the current trend for office design favors allocating less than 700 SF per attorney. Overall, the survey showed a distinct downsizing of space utilized per attorney with nearly 70% of all law firms surveyed allocating less than 800 SF per attorney. How law firms prepare for and respond to the rapid changes in their business plans will distinguish the industry leaders from the rest. Law firms are increasingly seeking advisors that can provide cost-effective real estate and advisory solutions that enhance profitability and competitiveness.
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Title Annotation:survey by Julien J. Studley
Author:Horowitz, Daniel
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 11, 2002
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