Satisfied client

A satisfied client is given a tour of the firm's new office


Firms should have less flashy offices to enable them to lower their fees, say in-house lawyers in RollOnFriday's survey.

"I hope firms take on learnings from the pandemic," said a senior in-house lawyer in banking. "We don't care if you have chosen to lease fancy city centre offices - it doesn't benefit us so we won't be impressed when you increase rates because of it."

"We don't mind where your lawyers are based (most of the time I have no idea!) so stop trying to charge twice as much for an NQ based in the South when I get better service and quality from a cheaper, more qualified lawyer who happens to be in the North," added the in-house lawyer. "The pandemic has shown that, when everyone is working from the even keel of their box rooms, quality should be the driver for reward, not location."

Another in-house lawyer agreed that firms should allow "more virtual working by lawyers" and "get rid of the willy waving ostentatious offices" in order to "pass the cost savings" to the client. 

"Wfh has demonstrated over the last 18 months that firms don't have to show off with palatial City HQs," said another client.

"It seems a dick move to make private practice lawyers completely revert to life as it was in 2019, unless they are weird and want to be knackered, stuck in traffic and then wondering about who brought the stinky lunch into the office," said another respondent.

"Lawyers, like other businesses, shouldn't be using offices in the same way as they did pre-COVID," said another respondent. "We want to instruct firms that have a similar mindset to the way we'll work in the future, so they are in tune with us, embrace technology and don't appear to be out of touch".

Of course, firms that signed up to long leases for brand-spanking new offices prior to the pandemic, will be locked in for a while. And many staff accustomed to working in comfortable surroundings back in the office, may not welcome a change in quality, location or ditching the office swimming pool. So disgruntled in-house lawyers may have to put up with attending meetings at firms with floor to ceiling views over the City in lavish surroundings for some time.


Are you an in-house lawyer? Then please, take RollOnFriday's poll for in-house lawyers:

 

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Thank you for taking part in RollOnFriday's survey of in-house lawyers. We use the results to write stories and reports. We don't take your name and so the answers you provide will be kept anonymous.
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Comments

Anon 10 September 21 08:32

I would think any cost savings are going to get passed to the partners rather than the clients 

Anon 10 September 21 09:34

"Pass the cost savings to the clients"? I wonder what worldly good all those poor corporates/multinationals large enough to have in-house counsel will do with said savings.

Come on... surely better to create better, more hospitable office environments for those who want/need to be there rather than pass savings to the clients (or, more likely, partners). It should be about shifting from spending on the ostentatious to spending on wellbeing.

TMFrank 10 September 21 09:37

If your PP lawyers are made to work ungodly hours at the drop of a hat you need to give them some comforts to stop them leaving. 

Anon 10 September 21 09:45

Presumably the in-house lawyers in question have a solution to fixed term lease deals without breaks that most firms have signed up to?

Anonymous 10 September 21 09:45

How naive are these in-house lawyers? Are any of their employers taking the cost savings arising from the pandemic and passing those onto the consumers of their services? I highly doubt it; like everyone else they'll be using them to increase their bottom line and pay out hefty dividends to their shareholders.

Law is a pretty polyopolistic market. There are literally hundreds of law firms in the City. If you aren't happy with the fees you are paying, find someone cheaper.  

Anon 10 September 21 09:49

@YearofthePig ... says the supposedly smart private practice lawyer insulting the people who do and will for the rest of your career ultimately decide whether or not you get paid... 

Anon 10 September 21 10:01

It amazes me that in-house lawyers always seem to think they know how to run law firms better than the people who actually run law firms. If they're such experts why don't they go back to private practice? 

Anonymous 10 September 21 10:06

My CFO and I went to a final round fo our beauty oparade of external firms in Jo'burg.  Couple of the offioces were v ostanetious.  I even took a photo of one.  My CFO summed up my feelings 100 - "I can see now where our fees will be going".  We were similarly cynical about the branded coffe coasters and reams of branded literature etc.  We gave the work to a firm that had slightly shabby, and rather dull offices.  

I also rememebr a barrister dfriend, years ago, laughiog at how dumb soilcitors were.  

PP lawyer 10 September 21 10:48

Lots of corporates could make signifiant savings by employing more in-house lawyers with a basic grasp of the law; I'm constantly amazed by the dumb questions I get from people who I'm supposed to respect and whose arses I'm expected to kiss.  

Anon 10 September 21 11:10

“We were similarly cynical (for which read: jealous and chippy) about the branded coffe coasters and reams of branded literature etc”

Anon 10 September 21 11:16

Surely precisely the same argument applies to large corporates?   Many of whom have far more ostentatious or pretentious work places than a number of city law firms who have been in the same offices for a while.  In large corporates,  I’ve seen robots circulating offering coffees, “mind bubbles”, floating water terraces, cocktail bars, “mind gyms”, superb catered restaurants and other facilities, huge atriums full of their products or gadgets and so on and so on.  
 

Are in house lawyers - all of whom would benefit and enjoy these things - also saying that their corporate employers should ditch their offices and rent a basic, cheap office somewhere else?  That would save a lot of money that could be passed to customers of the said corporates surely?   
 

Or does this logic not apply to them, and only law firms?

MidLevelAnon 10 September 21 11:26

Do all of these in house lawyers working remotely from palatial home offices think that everyone still wants to work from home all of the time? We aren't all Partners working from luxury sheds isolated from family and flatmates. Most of us who are based in London are working from our (rented) kitchens with two or three other people also trying to log on from home and having to duck into another room to take confidential client calls. 

Perhaps my colleagues in the North working from their four bed houses that they own would have a different spin on it though ...

Andy the S 10 September 21 13:32

@ MidLevelAnon 10 September 21 11:26

Move to the North then.

And yes, I am posting this from my four bed house, and I'm not even a partner.

London marketing manager 10 September 21 14:11

Even better idea: we could move out of our huge office (which will be half empty with flexible working), and the firm could raise all of our salaries.

Anonymous 10 September 21 16:16

To be brutally honest, no one in the city really gives a toss about these quoted "in-house lawyers". 

There are clients that pay their bills. Often in asset management, PE, banking, and they understand the value of the service provided, the market etc.

And then there are crappy corporates which pay donkeys to everyone internally and externally, and would prefer to use Eversheds in Manchester than Shearman in London. Let them.

No one cares about their depressing mediocrity or their opinions on anything nevermind the offices lawyers work in.

Je Suis Monty Don l'Autobus 10 September 21 19:20

Get stuffed, you chiselling chipsters. If you can find someone with worse offices who can do the work at the same quality for less - do it. Go on.

In Houser 11 September 21 08:24

This appears to have hit a nerve with some, but gigantic offices aren't going to be at full capacity going forward as staff work from home, on a rotation basis.

People have become accustomed to flexibility with where they do their work. I can't see stressed, busy lawyers wanting to burn the midnight oil in the office with a takeaway, and a long, depressing journey home in the dark afterwards; when the majority could be logging on in a more pleasant setting at home when working late.

A lot of the benefits that go with these offices (gym, late night canteen, opulent meeting rooms, games rooms, etc) won't be in as much demand as they were pre-pandemic. Firms that don't get this will be left behind, and could be missing out on a big saving; whether that extra money goes to clients or their own staff. 

Anon 11 September 21 12:53

Please can the corporates for whom these in house lawyers all work lower the salaries of those lawyers, move out of their expensive offices and lower the prices of their products they sell and pass all of those savings onto their customers?    I’m completely sure the shareholders would be fine with that and so would the in house lawyers.     

Anony-mouse 12 September 21 00:53

I have only one question: is polyopolistic really a word? Because I can't find it any dictionary. 

Sir Woke XR Remainer FBPE MBE 13 September 21 14:49

People still selling the BS line that the office is over, I see, Most people don’t want any piece of your home working revolution - hope this clarifies.

Not telling you 13 September 21 18:48

I am a Group GC for a major public company, and the survey data is very skewed and seems that drawn primarily from a crowd of bitter in-house lawyers. I want my external lawyers to have nice workspaces and offices. There are multiple intangible benefits to having a nice office, which then have a knock-on effect for clients. Penny pinching, rather than focusing on outcomes is why I don't rate a lot of in-house departments. 

Anonymous 16 September 21 09:02

If hybrid/flexible working is to become the norm, the rational thing to do is to arrange greater use of hotdesking and reduce the office footprint. Not to make your lawyers use shabby offices. 

Officious Bystander 16 September 21 12:59

Actually most law firm partners hate spending money on premises.  They don't invest in swanky offices for the sake of it.  Competition for half-decent lawyers at all levels, especially in London, is fierce.  But with few exceptions, who wants to work in a dump?    So it's part and parcel of trying to attract talent and keeping them happy while they slave away long after the in-housers have switched off their lap tops and switched on Netflix.  If you don't like paying the fees, there's plenty of cheaper firms to choose from.

pugnosedgimp 16 September 21 23:54

Having a swanky office may be an important part of attracting talent at a junior level, but less so as people go further up the chain, have familes etc... if i were looking for a new job at a law firm my main criteria would be:

- salary

- type of work

- whether team and partners seem a decent bunch

- am i going to be treated like an adult and be able to wfh when it's more convenient to do so rather than being treated like some oddball for not wanting to waste 2 hours of my day going to the office to do exactly the same thing I could have done at home (ie: work on documents / read things / take part in calls). 

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