When Washington-based Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner ditched its old office’s dark wood paneling and green carpeting for a more modern Northwest D.C. office on New York Avenue in 2005, the changing aesthetic represented more than just the need for additional space.

The intellectual property firm’s move was indicative of the cultural transformation it’s still undergoing. As a first-generation law firm, with most of its business tied to the top partners, Finnegan is trying to make the leap to the second generation, dealing with the reality that getting bigger also typically leads to creating a new class structure. That often comes in the form of a two-tier partnership, which includes nonowner, or nonequity, partners who do not have a voice in firm decisions.