RCR Triangle Law Firm Study Blog
Over the years, RCR has maintained a Triangle Law Firm Study to understand movements in Raleigh – Durham law firms. We initially began this study when we realized the data from national and international law firms were not always the proper benchmarking for Raleigh-Durham based firms. We then decided to use local data to benchmark, and that decision has allowed us to better advise our clients locally, especially since the start of Covid and Work From Home/Hybrid. We obtain our data through a combination of findings published in the Triangle Business Journal, CoStar and through direct contact with law and architectural firms.
There is no secret that the legal workplace has changed since the onset of Covid. In our January 2020 study, we confirmed the Triangle average of square feet per attorney was 930 SF. In our 2023 study, that metric has declined to 842 square feet per attorney. It will be interesting to see if this metric continues to decline as more firms transact new leases in the next couple of years. Work From Home/Hybrid will affect this metric as many firms may forgo dedicated workplaces and reduce overall space needs. The days of leasing space to plan for future growth are over.
Law firms (like many other industries) have struggled with returning to the office and many firms are trying to understand and create the ideal workplace. A recent ALM article reveals the global architectural firm Gensler completed a survey of 2,000 U.S. employees in Summer 2022. When asked if they’d be willing to come to the office more often if their firm provided their ideal mix of work experiences, forty two percent (42%) of legal industry employees said they’d go to the office an additional day per week. Twenty nine percent (29%) said they’d be willing to come back full time if that ideal workplace was met, ten percent (10%) said it would be good for about one more day per month and nineteen percent (19%) said it wouldn’t matter.*
What does the ideal legal workplace look like? A question that may have different answers depending on who you ask. Coming out of Covid, we have not seen a consistent thesis of what the ideal workplace is. New spaces are being designed with more open collaboration areas, hospitality areas, cafés, quiet study areas, etc. These areas are usually located in the “front house” of the space. Law firms are still utilizing the private office due to confidentiality purposes and quietness, and we think private offices will continue to be a focal point of the overall design.
*What Does It Take to Get Lawyers Back in the Office? – Andrew Maloney – April 14, 2023