DLA Piper reverses traditional workspace with new Sydney office

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DLA Piper’s Sydney office has officially relocated – not only that but it has been redesigned from scratch and flips the perception of a traditional legal workspace on its head.

The new flagship office at No. 1 Martin Place is in the heart of Sydney’s business and financial community and occupies four open plan floors on a 10-year lease.

Sydney office managing partner Onno Bakker told Australasian Lawyer that the move is evidence of the firm’s commitment to the Australian market.

“It’s an essential part of the business. It’s always been a strong market, and continues to be so,” he said.

And although Sydney’s DLA Piper team may have a bit to get used to, feedback about the new space has been overwhelmingly positive.

Predominantly open plan, it was designed in consultation with Woods Bagot and was constructed by FDC to align key DLA principles, including connectivity, collaboration, and apprenticeship.

“Traditionally, lawyers all have their own offices, but that’s all changing – we’ve got open space,” says Bakker. “Junior lawyers will have first-hand opportunities to see how more experienced practitioners work. There’s a greater team feeling.”

While partners will have the choice between having their own office, sharing an office, or joining the team in the open plan section, the design aesthetic of this is also a reversal of tradition.

Rather than being placed around the outer core of the building as is typical, the individual offices are at the centre of the space, with the open plan layout wrapping around them and boasting premium access to windows and natural light.

There are also communal facilities throughout the space including kitchens on every level, a 400 square metre outdoor terrace, and a central spiral stairwell that connects the three work floors.

“We have much more inter-group communication because of the open plan,” says Bakker. “There’s a lot more space we can now use to grow and take on more people.”

He says it was always on the cards to find a more central location for the DLA Piper offices, but when this space came up with the ability to re-design it starting from a “blank piece of paper”, it was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.

DLA Piper COO and managing partner, Australia, Andrew Darwin, says the new office is a big step in the evolution of the business.

“This move provided us with an excellent platform to apply some of the latest technologies and design principles, which we plan to replicate in other offices around the world.”

  • Flicker on 5/11/2015 4:42:16 PM

    Having worked in open plan offices, they don't work. Colleagues are distracting, it's too easy to spend the day chatting about what you did on the weekend, then being told you talk too loud on the phone and it disturbs others, Let's not forget it's very easy for catching colds and flu's.

  • Tracy on 5/11/2015 3:21:57 PM

    You can't compare new agile working designs with old open plan offices. New designs are offering a variety of spaces to get staff up and moving, and to give them the freedom to choose where they want to work depending on the needs of the work they are trying to achieve. New designs give staff the option to choose if they need a quiet space for complex tasks that require active concentration, or if they want a place where they can bounce ideas off co workers and senior staff without having to whisper. New flexible offices are designed to improve collaboration, foster creativity and encourage wellbeing in its' workers.

  • Martin on 16/06/2014 10:42:21 AM

    Ever tried reading a document when someone next to you is on the phone? Or make a confidential call, or dictate a letter, or use voice recognition software? Ever had to pack up all the documents you are working on at the end of each day? Ever had to carry your laptop and papers to another room to have a meeting or sit through a conference call on speaker-phone? Don't be fooled by stories of positive staff feedback. I have worked for 2 companies that went open plan and morale and productivity plummeted. In the real world lawyers don't need to 'network' with the people immediately around them them. Open plan is merely a rent saving move in disguise. It's not a way to keep your best people.

  • Jodie on 11/06/2014 8:46:31 PM

    Open plan offices suit some. For others, like me, they destroy productivity and morale. Even when embracing change, law firms commonly adopt a 'one size fits all' approach. Hopefully, there will be an assessment of the effect of this new open plan office on productivity and morale before it is replicated all over the world.

  • GB on 11/06/2014 4:21:31 PM

    We are a small team but have had open plan with kitchen, breakout meeting rooms and kitchen for more than 10 years.

    This, if anything just shows how far behind these big firms are.

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