Establishing a legal office or moving to a new location requires planning with regard to space requirements and design. A free standing building where the law office is the only occupant must also be responsible for maintaining building and occupancy codes, parking and accessibility laws. Offices in a managed building allow legal partners to focus strictly on the office space and design. Examine the basic common requirements that must be considered for either situation.
Every plan for a legal office must include an area for clients and vendors to enter and be greeted by a receptionist, and have a comfortable and pleasant place to sit and wait. The space allotted for reception will vary with the number of attorneys working in the office. Ideally the seating will be three to four times the number of attorneys to allow for multiple clients at a time, and still have empty seats to keep the area from feeling crowded.
Each attorney must have his or her private office with seating for not less than two clients during a consult. At least one boardroom must be a available to accommodate meetings between two or more attorneys and their clients. Assistants can share space, but the area should not feel cramped or be in an awkward location that is difficult to reach printing equipment, the reception area or offices of attorneys.
The document room should be central in the legal office design to allow for wiring and cables to reach printers from computers at each desk. The space must have a design that includes ample shelving for maintaining adequate supplies and equipment. Space around the door to access technology cables and connections, must remain accessible to vendors providing services. A work table must be present for compiling documents and binding equipment, with sufficient space for individuals to move around the table without bumping into each other. The document room does not need a window, but should meet local requirements for maintaining proper ventilation.
Add a small kitchen into the design of a legal office for hospitality to clients and the convenience of employees. A simple kitchen area with a sink, microwave, coffee maker and small refrigerator are the minimum requirements with sufficient cabinets for storage. If space allows, a small table would allow employees a chance to eat at work without having to spend the entire day sitting at the desk.
Place the reception accessible to rest rooms, but not directly next to rest rooms. If necessary create a privacy wall and hallway in the space between the waiting area and rest rooms. If not already available, private rest rooms should be created for the attorneys and staff to maintain a professional atmosphere.
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