The legal profession is in the midst of change. With new technology and an influx of international firms into the local market, clients are searching for law firms with dynamic, flexible, and transparent ways of working.
Gadens Lawyers is part of the new generation of law firms responding to the changing market and reinventing ways of working with clients. So it’s no surprise that the new fit-out for its Brisbane office is challenging the usual office structure.
Designed by international design firm, HASSELL, Gadens’ new Brisbane office is beautiful, practical and innovative. Large internal walls made of glass transmit light into the very centre of the workplace. Remarkably, the glass walls are movable. This helps the firm’s 350 staff, including 34 partners work flexibly in response to clients’ needs.
Partner Paul Spiro, who spearheaded the design from Gadens’ perspective, explains how the design works: “We recently expanded our banking team, which meant deconstructing six offices and replacing them with 10 open plan spaces. We did that over a weekend! And even better, we retained the office accommodation component for later installation.”
The move to new premises was the ideal opportunity to update the Gadens fit-out to better reflect the culture of the firm, Spiro says. “Rather than have the fit-out dictate our culture, we decided to reverse that and use our culture to influence the design. Gadens prides itself on its friendly and open culture. Our new layout, with its glass walls and wide-open spaces, enhances that environment perfectly.”
This is an approach that HASSELL Director, Kirsti Simpson embraced. “Gadens as a practice is not scared about challenging standard conventions,” she says.
The design has another aspect that is unusual in law firms: the support staff sit closest to the building’s façade. “In a typical law firm, the partners and senior lawyers are given the window-facing offices and the support functions take a back seat, literally, near the core of the building,” Spiro says. “We wanted to reverse this traditional approach and decided to move the partners and solicitors into the core of the building and move the open-plan area for the supporting staff towards the façade. But all of those built zones are four walls of glass. The built zones do not obstruct light transmission.”
This layout has vastly increased the flow of light into the building and added to the open and inviting atmosphere.
Gadens professional staff embraced the idea, somewhat to Spiro’s surprise. “We anticipated a lot of resistance when first announcing these plans to the partners. However when we explained the strategy for this decision and when people settled into their new offices, they were overwhelmingly happy, even those senior partners that may have lost their corner office with previously sweeping city views.”
The result is a more productive and satisfied workforce, but Simpson still thinks the decision took some guts. “The practice is a progressive and exciting one. The space represents this bravery,” she says.
Simpson sums up the project. “The legal sector has changed significantly over the last 10 years. This space is more transparent, collaborative and less hierarchical, all representative of the evolution of the legal profession.”