[Point of clarification. The resources listed here were pulled together and organized by Joy London on her excellent blog – Excited Utterances. Although it’s cited below, some readers missed that, meaning Joy isn’t getting the credit she deserves.
I continue to struggle with how best to reference material here. My preference is to post all the material that comes through my aggregator and then to add my commentary. I typically indent/blockquote the posted material and add my comments at the end. Once I have some more time to figure out CSS and stylesheets I can probably figure out a more visual way of setting off quoted material from my own stuff. Anyway, Joy did the heavy lifting here. I just used it as a launching pad for a few observations. I also wanted to make sure that I had all these excellent materials ready to hand as part of my use of this weblog as my backup brain.]
Proxemics and Law Firm Workspace. I’ve always been fascinated by “proxemics“—man’s appreciation and use of physical space. The significance of proxemics in law firms is readily apparent as we consider ways to form communities of practice. A number of law firms have rethought their physical spaces to achieve more innovative and flexible knowledge sharing environments.
Doug Zucker and Christopher Murray, at Gensler, an international architectural and design firm, have consulted with a number of law firms on the use of its physical space.
McDermott, Will & Emory (Washington, DC) clustered its associate offices around partner secretarial staff.
Cooley Godward (Reston, VA) provides visitor lounges as part of its conference center. With full voice/data capability and soft seating designed for work as well as conversation, it’s an ideal flex space that can also support teamwork and breakout sessions.
Gunderson, Dettmar (Menlo Park, CA) sets its paralegal/administrative workspace at the center of a converted warehouse to create a sense of openness and community. (See a virtual tour of Gunderson’s Menlo Park, Boston and New York offices).
Other Gensler law firm clients include San Francisco firms Bingham McCutchen, Brobeck, Heller Ehrman, and Graham & James (now merged with Squire Sanders).
For further reading:
(1) Law Firms: Design for Flexibility by Christopher Murray, III
(2) Law Firms: Trends & Implications by Doug Zucker
(3) Law Office Design by Doug Zucker
(4) It’s Not Your Father’s Law Firm Any More by Deborah Elliott: a profile of Morrison & Foerster’s San Diego office (full article available via subscription)
(5) A Different Kind of Sandbox by Janet Wiens: a profile of Greenberg Traurig’s, Tysons Corner office
(6) Flexibility is In, Rigidity Out as Law Firm Offices Evolve by Andrea Vanecko
(7) Benchmarking the Law Office by Margo Grant Walsh
(8) The Shape of the Legal Office Today (a breakfast seminar held by architects Pringle Brandon with speakers from Allen & Overy, Linklaters, Nabarro Nathanson and Slaughter and May)
(9) KnowledgeBoard’s Space special interest group’s (SIG) news and documents
(1) Gensler [additional clients: King & Spalding (New York office)
(2) Calloway Johnson Moore & West [client: Blanco Tackabery’s office in Winston-Salem]
(3) Swanke Hayden Connell [clients: Dibb Lupton Alsop (Leeds office) and Greenberg Traurig (Tysons Corner office)]
(4) Callison Architects [clients: Latham & Watkins (Orange County office) and Orrick, Herrington]
(5) Pringle Brandon [clients: Allen & Overy’s and Linklater’s open-plan office spaces]
Workspace Design Consultants
Sparknow, a KM consultancy. Read some of their excellent publications (21 papers which can be downloaded beginning on this page) Notable mentions:
Designing Spaces for Knowledge Work—Can the Use of Fiction Help Construct New Realities?
The Role of Private and Public Spaces in Knowledge Management
Physical Space—the Most Neglected Resource in Contemporary Knowledge Management? [excited utterances]
An Excellent collection of resources.
The issues of proxemics extend well beyond law firms. When we designed our first office space for Diamond in the Hancock building, we made a couple of interesting decisions with the help of Perkins & Will , our architects. For example, we turned all the corners of the floor into team rooms where project teams could work. That left no corner offices to fight over among the partners. The Hancock has great views and we were on the 30th floor. We designed the partner offices with glass partitions separating them from the inner areas so that those views were available. A couple of partners wanted to restrict use of partner offices, but that lasted about 15 minutes. Partners are on the road most of the time, so partner offices rapidly became yet another meeting room for small teams.
One little lesson we learned and applied when we added space. The first offices had lots of power and network connections but they required crawling under credenzas to get to. In the second stage build out, the offices had all power and network connections available at desktop height at the back of the desks.