Out of the Office
Will law offices be different after COVID? Attorneys say yes, but offices won’t disappear

by Avery Martinez

As the work-from-home world in Colorado stretches into its’ tenth month, the country has seen hundreds of thousands of workers migrating to home. Lawyers are certainly no exception, but questions have been raised on how the pandemic will affect the profession in the future — and how their offices will change.

An October article in the National Real Estate Investor reported that in 2019, law firms accounted for 5.9% of all office leases in the country, however, by October of this year, many firms still had staff working from home. The shift isn’t just from COVID-19. Instead, it began over a decade ago when law libraries migrated online and downsizing office space became possible. In that time, the amount of space per attorney was reduced from approximately 1,200 square feet to 700, and now, the prediction is down to 400 square feet per attorney.

In the Denver Metro, the office market vacancy rate increased to 11.5% for the third quarter, up 1.1% from the second quarter, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation website. This translated to roughly 1.8 million square feet of negative net absorption.

But some attorneys don’t believe the office will completely disappear. Attorneys agree that COVID-19 will change how the law office will operate, however, its function is destined to change due to the remote working brought on by the pandemic.

“I don’t think the office environment will ever go away — but I think it will be fundamentally different,” Barbara Mica, chief operations officer of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, said.

Mica doesn’t believe that “purely remote” legal work would ever be on the table because there’s no substitute for hands-on training for associates and in-office connection. She also expects a smaller footprint as a firm and remote work agreements being used more liberally than ever before — thanks to the proven ability of remote working during the pandemic.

This complete article appears in the Dec. 14 issue of Law Week Colorado. To read other articles from that issue, order a copy online. Subscribers can request a digital PDF of the issue. https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php