For global corporate law and litigation firm Cooley LLP, a move into a 22,800-square-foot space in Seattle's downtown core provided an opportunity to reinvent the client experience and optimize the space for
the firm's future.
The space had previously been occupied by a law firm, allowing design teams from Gensler's Seattle and Los Angeles offices to retain most of the private offices and existing circulation areas and instead focus on the entrance lobby. Designers refreshed the Cooley brand with sophisticated furnishings and natural materials like wood and stone; they also added a self-contained conferencing space with large pivoting glass doors to allow the accommodation of civic events, firm-wide gatherings and even the monthly after-work poker game.
Barbara Dunn, principal and design director in Gensler's Los Angeles office, says the decision to focus on the reception and conferencing area follows larger trends in law office design. "Image is still important to most law firms," she notes. "They may spend less on build-outs, but reception and conference areas still warrant higher levels of finishes. We are seeing law firms cluster their meeting spaces so that upgrades can be made to client areas only, while practice floors take a more pragmatic approach."
Gensler also combined Cooley's already downsized law library with one of the space's conferencing rooms, creating a multipurpose space that reduces the total amount of real estate required by the firm. "Asking more from the space is another trending theme in law firm design," says Susanna Covarrubias, senior associate and design director in Gensler's Seattle office. "This room was located in a more secluded area adjacent to the work area for easy access and the quiet required."
For Dunn, the law library's repurposing reflects the growing ubiquity of technology in the workplace.
"There are some attorneys who cling to the habit of using hard volumes, but most attorneys now take advantage of the convenience of reference materials accessible through technology," she says, adding, "ultimately, everything will be accessible online, so designing the library as a space that can be easily repurposed in the future is key."