Transparent, egalitarian and modern are not always words associated with the legal industry, but a look at the newest offices of notable Am Law 200 firms might make you think otherwise. The industry, famously slow to let go of long-held traditions, is in the midst of a notable shift in how it manages and designs its real estate.

The change is prompted by several realities. The price of office space continues to rise—New York’s toniest office space can go for more than $100 per square foot; San Francisco, $73 per square foot. Ongoing client pressure to cut fees has firms looking hard at bottom-line costs; firms devoted 7.2 percent of their revenue to rent and other real estate fees in 2015, according to Citi Private Bank. And staffing changes and other factors mean that 17 percent of a typical law firm’s office space is unused, according to a recent study.

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