You know that things have gotten bad when firms are considering shrinking the size of their partners' offices.
The National Law Journal has an article describing how some firms are cutting costs by changing their office configurations. As part of this push, many firms are putting partners and associates in identical offices, removing one of the most obvious signs of rank within the firm. Focusing on real estate costs makes sense since, as the article points out, real estate typically makes up the second-largest law firm expense after payroll.
Firms typically have two strategies they can employ to reduce the hit they take on real estate. First, there's a short-term solution that involves either renegotiating a lease or subleasing space. Second, firms can take a long-term look at their use of space and make changes to office layouts, such as adopting uniform office sizes or placing multiple attorneys in an office.
Real estate experts think that law firms may emerge from the current economic crisis with a radically different approach to their use of space.
But the question remains: are these ideas efficiency-boosters or morale-killers?