Oz Leads the Way in Open Office Concept Law Firms

They laughed at me when I suggested that law firms should move to open concept offices for all lawyers with fun amenities like rooftop terraces.

Not possible! they yelled.

We could never get any work done! they sneered.

We need our offices! they pompously carolled.

We’re not techies working for Google! they laughed.

Now Australian law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, with offices across Australia employing over 500 lawyers has proven them all wrong.

Walking into Corrs’ new Sydney office at state-of-the-art new office tower, 8 Chifley Place was like walking into a dream.

Click on image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.

No private offices. None. Nada.

All lawyers and paralegals in work stations, additional workstations allow for hotelling of Corrs lawyers from other offices and for visitors/clients – there are even stand-up desks. Light flows deep into each floor from windows no longer blocked by private offices. Each desk has personal file storage and there are personal lockers on each floor and shared jacket storage near each desk. Local storage cupboards and coat cupboards area also located on each floor.

There are ample private rooms for meetings or sensitive calls.

And, wait for it….. a massive outdoor terrace (with BBQ) and a funky café area.

The entire office has gone wireless allowing lawyers to work anywhere they choose – including the terrace. And all employees use VOIP which also allows for desktop video conferencing.

The firm moved into the space in early November, 2013 – early feedback has been positive (and the cost-savings due to smaller space requirements significant) so it would not be surprising if other Corrs offices will follow suit as their leases come due.

Rumour has it that other Sydney law firms will be following suit as their leases come due.

Monica Goyal of Aluvion Law in Toronto says that working in an open office arrangement creates an energy and buzz among lawyers. It increases productivity and the exchange of ideas.

Say goodbye to the traditional “trappings” of law and welcome to a bright new future.

Gosh, I love being vindicated!

8 Chifley interior - Corrs Chambers Westgarth


  1. Were the lawyers already trained (before the transition) not to have any paper lying around theri desks when they went home? Was it a paperless office? People who like to have the paper files they are currently working on right to hand will suffer more than those who work with completely clear desks.

    I guess those who find reading documents more than a couple of pages long on a screen tiring can look to their retirement plans.

  2. They are not paperless – although I think they are moving that way. There is room to keep some files at the stations in a drawer. Not sure about training….. but I think that if you do have a messy office area, it will stand out like a sore thumb and you will be asked to clean up. I assume there will be a great deal of peer pressure generated because everyone can see what you are doing – including clients

  3. Personally I would give up many tens of thousands of dollars in income to avoid having to work in an “open concept” office.

  4. Michael do Rozario

    I can confirm that it is not a paperless office (indeed there are more printers than before), and the training was very light touch. Good design and good technology is helping people to stay organised. You will have to forgive the plug, but the firm’s Casefolio app (www.casefolio.net) is certainly assisting some of us in keeping the piles of paper down, but lawyers will generally work in the manner they find most productive.

  5. The rebuttal: “Open-plan offices were devised by Satan in the deepest caverns of hell” (Guardian article, Nov. 18th, by Oliver Burkeman) : http://www.theguardian.com/news/2013/nov/18/open-plan-offices-bad-harvard-business-review?CMP=fb_guffices were devised by Satan in the deepest caverns of hell