Forum Magazine Exclusive: Law Firms Tentatively Embrace Open Office Floor Plans

Topics: Client Relations, Efficiency, Forum Magazine, Law Firms, Legal Innovation, Thomson Reuters


When McCarthy Tétrault, one of Canada’s premier law firms, invited its partners, lawyers and staff to move into the firm’s new open office spaces in Quebec City last summer, they videotaped their people’s reactions.

“It was absolutely priceless – to see how they loved the space and that energy, and how they were connecting with people, having a coffee together and exploring the new space,” said Tracie Crook, McCarthy Tétrault’s Chief Operating Officer. “To me, that was one of those ‘Wow’ moments that I wasn’t anticipating.”

Seeking More Collaboration and Accommodation

McCarthy Tétrault became the first major law firm in Canada to adopt what has become a growing – albeit cautious – trend among law firms both in the U.S. and around the world: utilizing office space that creates more open, communal work areas with more flexible, tech-connected workstations while doing away with secluded, individual offices of dark oak and smoked glass that typified the traditional law firm years ago.

Offices of McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Offices of McCarthy Tétrault LLC, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada


The idea – supported by operating officers like Crook as well as architects and workflow and generational specialists – is that an open office design breaks down the hierarchical barriers and creates a space for more collaboration, technological innovation and accommodation of the multi-generational workforce that comprises a modern law firm.


In a sense, it’s building the office of tomorrow for the rainmaker of tomorrow, which in many firms may now be found in the ranks of the younger, millennial-age lawyers rather than the older, baby boomer partners.


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