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Designing Law Firm 2030: start now, rethink everything, stay agile

Designing Law Firm 2030: start now, rethink everything, stay agile

2022 has opened to news of yet another wave of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions across many parts of the globe due to the Omicron variant.  It can be tough to see much light at the end of the tunnel.  But on 19 January the UK government signaled what they dearly hope will be ‘the beginning of the end’ for pandemic restrictions there.  Compulsory face-mask wearing in indoor public spaces has ended and the requirement to self-isolate if testing positive is likely to end in March.  Most immediately, and significantly for legal businesses, the work-from-home guidance that has been in place for most of the last two years has been retracted.  

How do firms need to react to in those countries (which, we sincerely hope and expect, will be all countries before too long) where restrictions are being more emphatically dismantled? In particular, how do we ensure that long-range thinking isn’t swept aside in a rush to be seen to be ‘returning to the office?’

First, of course, there are short-term imperatives that all leadership teams will be addressing right now:

It is longer-term evolution that is most at risk of being side-lined as working from home advice ends and we get a buzz from being out and about again.  In survey after survey over the pandemic period at least 90% of responding firms stated that hybrid working would be a permanent feature of the way they work going forward. It would be easy in the immediate rush that accompanies an end to working from home guidance and other restrictions to lose sight of this and easy to derail efforts to evolve and enhance a new hybrid working model that still has multiple imperfections.  When advising and assisting firms with the detailed planning for long-term, seamless hybrid operations, I am starting with some basic principles:

A final thought is that building a hybrid working model with more face-to-face interaction than we’ve become used to will rely on clearly communicating both business and personal benefits of spending more time in the office: as Sarah-Jane Osborne, Head of Workscape at international design consultancy Arcadis, asks ‘are you going to magnetise or mandate people back to the office?’


Chris Bull

is a strategy, operations and change consultant who has established himself as one of the leading advisors to legal businesses in the dynamic and innovative UK market, as well as working in the US and internationally. He has built a reputation as a legal market pioneer and innovator, having worked for all four of the Big Four accounting/consulting firms, been one of the first partner-level chief operating officers at a law firm and overseen some of the largest global legal process outsourcing deals at ALSP Integreon. Europe: [email protected]