Cozen O'Connor will be moving from 1900 Market St. to Reed Smith's vacated space at One Liberty Place in 2015. The firm isn't reducing its overall square footage but it will be redesigning the space to better utilize technology and reduce the need for areas like library space, Chief Executive Officer Michael Heller said.
Video conferencing will be updated and every lawyer will have a camera installed on his or her computer to allow for attorneys to quickly communicate with one another across offices.
Heller said the firm will create more open space for attorneys to congregate and collaborate. And while Cozen O'Connor hasn't had to think just yet about reducing headcount, Heller did note that Blank Rome's recent push to adjust its attorney-to-secretary ratio to better match the needs of younger attorneys is something that is on the horizon for other firms. Heller said one secretary may be assigned to six junior attorneys who rely less on technical assistance than do more senior attorneys who may still need their own secretary.
Heller said it is fair to say that the changes to law firm space have not had a dramatic impact on attorneys. He said the biggest change on that front has been shrinking partner offices to free up more money for conference room floors.
A recent report by real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle found the market in many cities still favors law firms when it comes to lease negotiations.
The report found law firms are downsizing space, but not people.
"Law firms are lowering their overall space needs by reducing the size of perimeter offices but also in creative ways by transforming empty interior support spaces and secretarial carrels into flexible work spaces and associate offices," said Elizabeth Cooper, Jones Lang LaSalle international director and co-chair of the firm's law firm practice, in a statement. "In 2012, 29 percent of all large (more than 50,000-square-foot) law firm leases involved rightsizing."
When relocating to a new space, law firms are cutting approximately 14.8 percent of their space due to increased efficiencies, the report found.
Jones Lang LaSalle did a detailed analysis of several major markets across the country, including Philadelphia, although not Pittsburgh. The company ranked Philadelphia eighth among the top 10 cities that are favorable markets for law firms to renegotiate space. According to the report, most large Philadelphia firms have made their latest round of leasing decisions. That has left mainly smaller firms looking for space in the market.
The average class A rent per square foot is $27.92 in Philadelphia, JLL said.