By Alan Ruby, Senior Architectural ConsultantWhenever I compare the characteristics of a traditional office to a contemporary mobile office, I inevitably think of my attorney’s old-fashioned office as a prime example. His dark, walnut-paneled walls, shelves stocked with law books, massive desk, and heavy leather chairs absolutely scream traditional.
I typically visit him in his Washington, D.C. office once or twice each year. Interestingly, when I met with him the summer before last, he was wearing a polo shirt and shorts; not his usual pinstriped blue suit. I was somewhat amused and asked if our appointment was keeping him from the golf course. Holding up his iPhone, he responded that the practice of law was rapidly changing. Many of the meetings and visits to the courthouses that he previously needed to attend in person could now be accomplished remotely from his office or even, yes, from the golf course. He still wore his pinstriped blue suit for trials and depositions, but why bother to dress up for an occasional meeting with a familiar client? I briefly thought about being insulted, but I clearly saw his point.
When I called to schedule my next appointment this past summer, the receptionist suggested that I might want to meet him at a new mobile law office that the firm had recently opened closer to my home in suburban Virginia. That sounded convenient and was fine with me.
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The Mobile Law Office
As I describe my surprise on my visit to his new office, keep in mind the fact that I regularly plan new mobile office environments as a core component of my professional practice. Despite my immersion in the changing office environment, I was astounded at what I encountered. Gone were the walnut paneled private offices lined with law books. In their place was a large, bright, and open area filled with contemporary mobile law office design workstations for paralegals and small touchdown desks and seating areas for the attorneys. Several glass walled conference rooms lined the edge of the open area. One of the paralegals escorted me to an open seating area where I found my attorney – again wearing shorts and a polo shirt.
Having virtually forgotten the legal issue that was the basis for our meeting, I immediately asked him how he liked this new work environment. “Love it,” he responded. “I can swing in here for an hour or two, get some work done at the computer, and get back home without the need to sit in gridlocked traffic during rush hour. The tech revolution has allowed me to take on more clients and provide them with better service in far less time than was previously required. The new mobile law office design also cost the firm a lot less than a private office arrangement would have. Great for end-of-the-year bonuses.”
Who would have guessed. My attorney seated at a computer touchdown station in a pair of shorts. Nevertheless, his legal advice that day proved sound and completely solved my problem.