LSAG Legal Briefs - Vol 2

The Resilient Legal Workplace Flexibility in Practice Brought to You by Gensler

S eldom is a light shone on the workplace experience of first year and summer associates. Gaining a private office as a first year associate can feel like a milestone, but it can be challenging to connect with new colleagues if working in an enclosed environment, especially coming straight from law school. And if we’re being honest about where summer associates are seated, it isn’t always ideal. These bright, eager, enthusiastic young minds often find themselves in the least savory parts of our spaces: windowless internal offices, the odd cubicle, war room, or otherwise undesignated table. It’s understandable. First year associates are new. They won’t demand a corner office or customized workstation. And a summer associate’s time at a law firm is short-term, learning as much as they can on the job until, hopefully, receiving an offer. But we ignore the workspaces of both groups at our peril. Here’s why. Expectations for what a workplace should provide have changed dramatically in the last 20 years. And yet law is known for conservatism when it comes to office design. The legal industry is generally of a different mindset than BY JOSHUA BARTHEL CONTRIBUTORS: STEVEN J. MARTIN, KATIE MESIA, KATIE COSTA (GENSLER)

Silicon Valley tech companies with their nap pods, on-site bearded baristas, and bean bag chairs. To be clear, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s appropriate. The gravity and precedence-based work of lawyers at major firms who have argued cases before the Supreme Court calls for an entirely different set of cultural expressions than one would expect for computer coders, app designers, bankers, or even federal employees. Law will always carry a different weight than other industries, but there are important commonalities in how workplaces are getting more open, comfortable, and collaborative

that apply no matter your profession. Why Does This Matter for First Year and Summer Associates?

And, for that matter, fresh out of college paralegals considering law school? They are, for lack of a better word, impressionable. They are not yet steeped in the legal industry. They aren’t used to its norms. Their expectations—and perceived employment alternatives—are shaped by what they know about where their friends are

It’s no secret that lawyers are working differently these days. Employees everywhere are.

8 | Legal Sector Advisory Group | ADVISING FOR EXCELLENCE

Photo Credit: Eric Laignel

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