The size of the average law firm office has shrunk in overall square footage over the course of the last five years. While many associate this with the emergence of younger smaller firms, there are other factors playing into this. In this blog post, Los Angeles office construction contractors H.W. Holmes, Inc. look at a few particular trends responsible for the incredibly shrinking size of law firms in recent years.


Technology is perhaps the main driver in law firms needing less square footage than in years past. This is mainly due to staff mobility. A quarter of lawyers in the U.S. now work remote through much of the workweek. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, email and WiFi have replaced the need for private offices. Client files can be accessed from anywhere and attorneys are more readily accessible to clients than ever before. They can make or take calls, text, access docs, and engage clients in online chat or video calls via one device from any location.

Shift to Digital Libraries

One reason the law firms of yesteryear required so much more space is they housed on-site law libraries. Attorneys needed on-site access to law books, legal journals, and publications.

Today, with everything digitized and accessible either online or as a shared doc in the cloud or a secured database, 75% to 95% less space is needed for a firm’s library than 10 or 20 years ago. Hard copies in the office are primarily for display.

Law Firms Are Becoming Collaborative Spaces

A “big office” used to be something a firm would use to entice an up-and-coming attorney moving their way up the ranks. But this isn’t done as much today. Today’s firms are increasingly pushing enhanced collaboration and interaction among their attorneys.

Well-designed collaborative spaces have become the most integral part of law firm office design and construction. Modern design and finishes. High-ceilings. Plenty of natural light. A cafe area. Comfy collaborative workspaces meshed with conference rooms or a few areas for privacy.

In lieu of paying higher rent for a space larger in square footage, many companies are paying higher rents for a smaller office in a building with amenities like shared fitness centers and conference rooms, a food court or food trucks, bike storage, and both indoor and outdoor gathering spaces. Things like these can attract the law firm to the best and brightest employees. Office space in a building such as this, regardless of that space’s square footage, can play a pivotal role in recruitment.

Cost Effectiveness

While there are definitely factors requiring less of a need for space, the driving factor in reducing office size is ultimately lower leasing or build-out costs. These used to be the second-highest expenditures of most law firms. Behind only to payroll. Occupying less square footage has proven to be incredibly cost-effective for law firms and is an industry trend expected to continue.


H.W. Holmes, Inc. is a commercial builder in the Los Angeles area ready to take on any law firm office tenant improvement project. We’ll help bring your space, regardless of its size, up-to-date with current trends in law firm design and space configuration. Contact us today to discuss your project and get a FREE estimate.