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The lease for the Miami office of law firm Baker & McKenzie expires in June, and the firm’s managers already are evaluating options. They may renew the lease at 1200 Brickell Ave. or move. But one thing is certain. Wherever they set up shop, some attorneys will get smaller offices than they’re used to. “We’re cutting down the office sizes that are being used by attorneys, in a movement toward smaller offices,” said Donald Hayden, managing partner at the firm. “When we were looking at alternative spaces, part of the process was evaluating each floor plan and seeing how it can fit attorneys in a more efficient manner.” A more efficient manner means getting more for the rent by fitting more in less space. Attorneys at Baker & McKenzie, for example, currently work in one of three office sizes — 150 square feet for associates, 250 square feet for national partners and 325 square feet for international partners. The office-space plan under consideration calls for only two office sizes, 150 square feet for associates and 250 square feet for partners. Not surprisingly, “there is some resistance from some senior partners,” Hayden said. But for a growing number of law firms, eliminating big corner offices and standardizing the rest has become part of the business plan. Much like retailers and consulting firms, law firms have begun incorporating square footage into measures of productivity. Indeed, some law firms have begun setting a target amount of square feet per attorney, or a target ratio between rent costs and revenues. According to a recent national survey by Washington, D.C.-based real estate services firm Julien J. Studley Inc., about 70 percent of law firms say they’re allocating less than 800 square feet per lawyer. A decade ago, the figure was 1,000 square feet or more, said Greg Katz, branch manager of Studley’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office. “Now, when firms are doing a new transaction, they’re trying to get into the 600 to 700 square feet range per attorney,” Katz said. Bob Orban, senior vice president in the Miami office of Trammell Crow, specializes in law firms. Three years ago, he began working with management at the Miami office of Holland & Knight, which wanted to re-evaluate the way the firm uses its 100,000 square feet or so at 701 Brickell Ave. “Part of our task was to obtain some metrics of square footage per attorney,” Orban said. “They had some very strict metrics imposed nationwide.” The target was about 400 square feet per attorney, said William Bloom, a Holland & Knight attorney who is working with Orban. The firm is renewing its lease in May, but it has been reconfiguring the space it occupies on various floors, taking additional space on the 33rd floor while vacating 12,000 square feet on the 16th and 22nd floors. In the process, it has reduced the usable square footage per attorney from about 600 square feet to 440 square feet, Orban said. “The days when law firms had enormous offices that were grossly inefficient are over,” Orban said. There’s another chunk of space law firms also are dramatically decreasing these days: libraries. As literature and documents get stored and accessed in personal computers, the office library is becoming a shadow of its former self. Miami-based Walton Lantaff Schroeder & Carson, which this fall is relocating its Broward County, and Palm Beach, Fla., offices, will be disposing of whatever books it keeps in those offices’ libraries. “We don’t need the books,” said Dick Hrebik, the firm’s director of administration. “They take a tremendous amount of space.” The firm got rid of the library in the Miami office four years ago, when it moved from One Biscayne Tower to 9350 S. Dixie Highway, Hrebik said. The move included a trip to the dump, where it disposed of 18,000 pounds of books that used to occupy more than 1,000 square feet. Now, the space assigned for the library is no more than 320 square feet. As it builds its new offices in Broward and Palm Beach, the firm is implementing the standard office sizes it adopted for the Miami move: 120 square feet for associates and 240 square feet for partners. “We made much better use of the space by standardizing the size,” Hrebik said. “Before, office sizes varied quite a bit, and a number of offices were much larger. We didn’t need them to be that large.” The move toward more stringent use of space hasn’t necessarily resulted in law firms reducing their overall office size, brokers said, because even as they reduce square feet per lawyer, they keep adding staff. “A lot of law firms have been on a growth spurt in the past several years, so they aren’t taking less space overall, but they can certainly fit more in a lesser amount of space, given the new parameters,” said Tere Blanca Ulloa, a senior vice president at Miami-based Codina Realty Services who is working with Baker & McKenzie as it re-evaluates its lease. “Everybody is becoming more aware of the need to use their space more effectively.”

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