U.S. law firms are expanding their office spaces, as many other industries downsize and adopt flexible work arrangements.
A recent report published by the brokerage firm Savills, featured in Reuters, revealed a growing preference for in-person work in the post-pandemic era for the legal field. In 2023, 42.6% of law firm transactions involved expanding office square footage — a notable increase from 28.5% in 2022.
This trend significantly diverges from the broader pattern of other industries that are reducing their office spaces. This expansion in the legal field reflects a push by law firm leaders for greater office attendance well into 2024, and beyond. Major firms have been reversing the more flexible work arrangements offered during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many firms now mandate lawyers to work in the office for at least three to four days per week.
However, the nature of how the office space is utilized is evolving. Reuters reports that many law firms are redesigning their spaces, opting for smaller individual offices and, in some cases, implementing shared offices. There’s also a growing emphasis on featuring more collaborative areas — with larger central spaces and additional conference rooms.
It’s clear not all law firms are expanding, though, as the report shows downsizings accounted for a sizeable 29.5% of law firm leases through the third quarter of 2023.
The trend suggests a specific movement in the legal field towards in-person collaboration, countering the remote work trend prevalent in other industries across the workforce. This data could reveal more development in the legal sector, emphasizing the importance of physical office space for certain types of work — particularly where collaboration and client interaction are key.