Office lights up

Written on the 4 December 2013

Office lights up

Gadens Lawyers has responded to changing demands on legal offices in a very physical way, with the refurbishment of its Brisbane base.

Legal clients are increasingly searching for law firms with dynamic, flexible and transparent ways of working, because of new technology and the influx of international firms into the local market, says Gadens Lawyers.
In that vein the firm has challenged the conventional office structure with its Brisbane office’s new interior design.

Partner Paul Spiro spearheaded the redesign and says the aim was to use culture to influence the design instead of letting the design control the office culture.

“Gadens prides itself on its friendly and open culture,” says Spiro.
“Our new layout, with its glass walls and wide-open spaces, enhances that environment perfectly.”

The practical and innovative refurbishment was designed by international firm, HASSELL.
Large internal walls made of glass transmit light into the very centre of the workplace.

The walls are movable, which helps the firm’s 350 staff, including 34 partners, work flexibly in response to client needs.

HASSELL director Kirsti Simpson embraced the changes and says Gadens was not scared of challenging design conventions.
“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 the firm wanted to reverse the traditional approach by moving partners and solicitors into the building’s core and moving the open-plan area for the supporting staff toward the façade.
“But all of those built zones are four walls of glass. The built zones do not obstruct light transmission.”
Gadens’ staff embraced the idea, somewhat to his 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 who 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 courage.
“The practice is a progressive and exciting one.
“The space represents this bravery,” she says.

She sums up the project by saying the legal sector has changed significantly over the past 10 years, and the new space is more transparent, collaborative and less hierarchical to suit.






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