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CRE Opinion

Space Matters For the Growing Number of Dallas Law Firms

Responses to the changing work environment will help determine how agile and competitive today’s law firms can be.

Recent mergers and acquisitions have brought many law firms into the Dallas marketplace. As the growing number of these firms compete to attract and retain talent, they are looking for unique and innovative ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. And they’re turning to real estate to help.

Jo Staffelbach Heinz

Real estate plays a significant role in helping firms develop, fortify, and distinguish their culture. In almost every case, culture will trump a company’s strategy and financial position. The definition of a firm’s unique culture and the amount of change management that occurs with each culture shift can greatly impact a company’s success, so it’s critical for firms to clearly define and continuously emphasize their established culture.

When two dramatically different cultures come together, it can take time for both parties to become fully ingrained with one another. Throughout the process, change management will assist firms ensure success. When a new law firm comes to a new city, it’s even more critical to work with stakeholders to help them embrace the new culture. To attract and retain talent, it’s crucial for firms to cultivate a culture that supports creativity, innovation, and well-being.

Many Dallas firms are curating employee-centric experiences with a greater emphasis on culture and employee well-being. By investing in amenities that offer healthy food options, social gathering spaces, fitness rooms, spaces for recreation and relaxation, outdoor areas, technology-rich conference rooms, and entertainment venues, firms can not only gain greater productivity from their employees but also foster a culture of innovation and engagement. It’s a different approach to real estate than in the past, but one that is becoming increasingly relevant in the war for talent.

Like much of corporate America, the legal workplace is also beginning to see the value in offering greater variety in how and where work takes place. To remain competitive, firms are incorporating workplace design that balances heads-down concentration spaces with collaboration areas. For many offices, this means allocating a greater percentage of space to communal meeting areas that encourage and support interaction, investing in flexible furniture and sit stand options and providing enhanced break areas that offer bar or barista services.

Today’s law firms want to provide spaces that allow for informal entertainment and social exchange. They want to provide areas where their clients and employees will be comfortable. In short, today’s law firms are intent on not looking like a law firm. They want their space to reflect an image more consistent with their clients. And as law firms fight to attract and retain top talent, the way they use their real estate will play an increasingly important role in whether they succeed.

Jo Heinz Staffelbach is a principal and workplace leader at DLR Group|Staffelbach.

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