D.C. architects create a pop-up ‘law firm of the future’

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the pop-up law firm project was the creation of 40 Gensler employees in Washington.  In fact, the employees who worked on the project came from Gensler offices across the country. This version has been corrected.


Rendering of Gensler’s “law firm of the future.” (Courtesy of Gensler/Courtesy of Gensler)

What is 5,000 square feet, and will be built and torn down within seven days?

A pop-up law firm constructed by designers and architects from Gensler’s Washington office. The temporary office, which Gensler is branding “the law firm of the future,” will be an exhibit at the Association of Legal Administrators annual conference and expo in Toronto this week.

It will showcase features that are becoming familiar to many law firms in Washington that have recently moved to new office space or revamped their existing offices: A more open floor plan, standard-size offices (as opposed to big corner offices for senior partners and smaller ones for junior lawyers) and more communal areas such as “touchdown” spaces for people from the firm’s other offices who are in town for a few days and need a temporary work space.

Gensler representatives will be guiding conference-goers — mostly lawyers and law firm office administrators — on short tours of the pop-up law firm, explaining each component and why it works in a law firm setting.

“We emphasize the point that there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Steve Martin, a principal at Gensler in the District. “It’s taking these components and assembling them in a way that reflects who they are as a firm and provides flexibility so they can adapt and change over time.”

The project is the first of its kind for the design and architecture firm, and is a culmination of two years of work done by about 40 Gensler employees . It was financed by internal grants from Gensler’s board of directors, which funds research projects proposed by Gensler employees. Gensler partnered with furniture companies Herman Miller and Steelcase, which are providing the desks and chairs, and Microsoft and Thompson Reuters, which are providing the technology equipment for the exhibit.

Gensler has been working with many law firms to incorporate more modern, efficient design into their office space. In the Washington region, Gensler has worked with McDermott Will & Emery; Dickstein Shapiro; Hogan Lovells; Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox; Troutman Sanders; Chadbourne & Parke; Fried Frank; Clifford Chance; and Seward & Kissel to design their new or existing office space.

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for Capital Business, which she joined in 2011. She was previously a reporter at the Daily Journal in Los Angeles, covering LA civil courts and labor and employment law.
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