Office Design, Cost & Delivery Considerations for Law Firms | Oktra
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  • Top Office Design, Cost and Delivery Considerations for Law Firms

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  • A breakdown of the top design, delivery and cost considerations for legal companies approaching the relocation or refurbishment of their workplace.

    We’ve been designing legal workspaces for decades and are well versed in fit outs, refurbishments and relocations. Here we discuss design considerations as well as potential risks and costs to consider to help ensure a smooth relocation or refurbishment project.

  • Design

    Where and how we work are two factors that are constantly evolving, and core strategies for supporting employee productivity and wellbeing are changing faster now than ever before. By understanding how your teams work, you’ll be able to identify office design aspects best suited to your business which ultimately will help drive key outcomes.

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  • Ahead of any transformative changes to your office space, you may find it beneficial to work through a space rationalisation process to identify any inefficiencies in your current space. Space rationalisation is the process businesses use to realign their workspace and operating models with their business objectives. The result is greater operational flexibility, increased space efficiencies and a higher return on investment.

    Layout is a crucial point of consideration and a determining factor in the efficiency of your space. Consider how your staff uses your current space – what works well and what doesn’t? Do they have access to the right mix of working environments to support daily tasks? A great deal of productive workspace layouts can be adapted to suit the specific requirements of a legal company, so it’s important not to rule any out. Consider incorporating the following types of spaces in your fit out or refurbishment:

    • Breakout spaces
    • Amenities
    • Agile meeting areas
    • Phone booths
    • Bookable offices
    • Collaborative, open-plan workspace
    • Bookable meeting rooms

    Kennedy’s are a great example of a law firm that’s made modern office design work to their advantage. They’ve positioned fee earners in their open plan area communicating with support staff via individual hi-tech IT systems. Kennedy’s space is adaptable, allowing for partitions to be created or removed easily, equipping them with the flexibility they need to plan a successful and safe office reintegration.

    Incorporating breakout spaces within your workplace design can enhance collaboration and teamwork by allowing opportunities for socialising and ideas sharing. Café style teapoints and informal meeting areas provide the homely elements employees have come to expect from remote working, without compromising your brand or professional environment.

  • Delivery

    There are two main delivery methods you can choose from: traditional procurement and ‘design and build’, otherwise known as ‘D&B’. There are many differences between design and build and traditional procurement, but the main points of variation are cost, delivery speed and risk.

    Under the traditional delivery method, the client appoints each specialist involved in delivering the project, including an architectural practice or design consultancy as well as an interior designer, project manager, cost consultant, mechanical and electrical consultant(s), IT consultant, furniture specialist and others.

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  • The client also directly sets and manages the design and the budget parameters, after which contractors and sub-contractors bid to deliver the project. You’ll need to be aware of unrealistically low bids as they will have a negative impact on the quality of your new space.

    Traditionally-procured projects tend to see inflated budgets as anything outside the tender specification is chargeable. Delivery times are longer and can be uncertain, particularly if the specification changes.

    Design and build offers clients a turnkey solution with design, specification, consultancy, project management and construction services under one roof. Approximately 85% of interior fit out projects with a value under £5,000,000 are procured using design and build. This method has evolved to suit more complex projects as well, and is a common and competitive delivery method for projects 70,000 sq ft and higher.

    One of the main advantages of D&B is that it provides 100% cost certainty as the client and contractor share the risk. This delivery method gives clients a single point of contact and accountability as a single contractor is responsible for the entire project. Design and build is efficient – typically 33% faster than traditional procurement – and lends itself well to rollouts, making it an advantageous option for law firms with multiple offices in the UK or internationally.

  • Cost

    Whichever procurement route you choose, your budget will be based on what you can realistically afford. It’s worth exploring whether there is room for negotiation on the lease terms or any financing options available, such as loans, leasing or hire purchase. There are tax breaks from the Inland Revenue and capital allowances and with the right advice, up to 70% of relocation/refurbishment could be eligible for some form of tax relief.


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  • However, cost is highly individualised and heavily dependent upon project requirements. Office fit outs range from cosmetic work to structural changes. Based on our extensive experience working on legal sector projects, we advise clients to budget a year’s rent towards office fit out costs (i.e £55 per sq ft or £75 per sq ft with a lower limit of about £35 per sq ft due to the cellular nature of construction). We also recommend a contingency budget of between 5% and 10% of the project total to accommodate any unforeseen programme changes.

    Your fit out costs are likely to be one of your company’s largest expenditures. Variables including design, size, furniture selection and location will all have a major impact on the final cost. Key areas of potential expenditure include:

    • Building-related costs – rent, rates, service charges, building security, maintenance, running contracts, existing space dilapidations and stamp duty
    • Advisory fees – commercial property agents, legal advice, cost consultants and environmental audits
    • Capital expenditure – fit out and furniture costs, IT infrastructure and hardware, new AV systems, installation, training and telephone lines
    • Logistical fees – mail redirection, move management, PR and marketing
    • Soft costs – insurance, staff training and project contingency

    While there is no single answer as to the cost of an office fit out, there are a range of aspects to be considered. We’ve put together the following table illustrating major areas of potential expenditure based on a typical 10,000 sq ft project in London. It’s important to note that these figures are a guide only – for more detailed information on office fit out costs, speak to a member of our professional teams.

  • The Legal Lookbook

    We are experts in designing innovative workspaces for legal firms that support their business goals and create an outstanding client and employee experience. Find out how we can help your business and see who we have worked with in our lookbook.

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