UnWork’s Roundtable Series: The Future of the Legal Workplace
Author Jessica Swanepoel  | 

UnWork held an exclusive Future of the Legal Workplace Symposium, an event hosted at Baker McKenzie’s recently opened state-of-the-art HQ, marking a significant milestone in our esteemed legal roundtable series.

The afternoon buzzed with insights from senior legal professionals, exploring a spectrum of themes from cutting-edge innovations in the legal workplace to global workplace experiences.

Key insights from the event, which reflect the focal points discussed.

Integrating foundational technology

As many legal firms shift to hybrid work patterns, the digital experience needs to be seamless and unobtrusive. Getting the basic technology right is critical to enable communication with colleagues and clients. Audio, video, and integration of meeting room software and hardware is critical to enabling professional and confidential communication in a hybrid or remote setting.

Design for flexibility and autonomy

Client and employee expectations and needs are constantly evolving, and the physical space needs to adapt to accommodate different work spaces, client and meeting areas, and service and amenity offerings. Now, firms are asking themselves how they can embed flexibility into the office while maintaining consistent culture and sense of identity in the firm.

Leading by example

Many firms believe that there is a loss of intensity of interactions when people are engaging online rather than collaboratively in-person, and for younger lawyers, this could translate into losing out on better training experiences, better contacts, and better overall progression. Senior partners need to set the example of coming into the office more frequently in order to break down these boundaries further.

Collaborative progression

The success of change management is contingent on bringing people along on the journey. As part of its radical redesign, Baker McKenzie held internal interviews to understand the different aspirational, strategic, and functional needs of the employees in the firm and took this feedback to its designers to embed into the physical space.

AI and the new lawyer

Digital platforms are already changing the way in which legal work is structured, this could change the model of junior lawyers learn and develop as AI takes a more active role in educating new lawyers. In the future, firms may be looking to law schools to utilise AI in order to provide more ‘client-ready’ lawyers.

Apps for people, not process

Successful workplace apps centre around the needs of people, not solely function such as booking and facilities management. Workplace apps need to have several points of use throughout the day from building access and booking space to social connection with colleagues. Employee experiences can be hyper-personalised using proxy data from the app.

Balancing equity with privacy

Many law firms are shifting to an open plan layout to breakdown boundaries and hierarchies within the firm. However, anxieties around not finding private or focus spaces can push people into possessive habits of ‘claiming’ desks as their own. Such concerns can be alleviated through investment into adequate breakout, private spaces.

Evolving with clients

In many law firms, clients are no longer coming into offices as often – opting for online meetings for quick, transactional interactions and only visiting the office for bigger completion meetings. As a result, law firms are adapting their spaces to offer superior experiences for clients to match or surpass their expectations.

280 Bishopsgate by Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie’s new flagship office at 280 Bishopsgate heralds a new era of workplace innovation, embodying the firm’s commitment to collaboration, sustainability, and well-being.

The office design revolutionizes the way lawyers work, departing from conventional norms to embrace a dynamic, collaborative, and agile approach. This innovative strategy not only reimagines the legal workspace but also fosters creativity and efficiency.

Embracing sustainability, the office utilizes eco-friendly materials, renewable energy sources, and efficient technology to significantly reduce energy consumption. With features like quiet corners for focused work, collaboration desks, and central staircases promoting team mobility, it cultivates an environment conducive to both creativity and efficiency.

This move reflects Baker McKenzie’s evolution in London, aligning with its global sustainability goals while enhancing service delivery to its esteemed client base.


If you’re keen on participating in our upcoming roundtable events, please reach out to us at [email protected]