The Daily Hive has an article showcasing McCarthy's relatively new digs as part of a "cool offices in Vancouver" series. Like several other large law firms, the re-imagined workspace skews much more modern than the dowdy dark-leather-and-walls-full-of-dusty-case-reports vibe that was the law firm design staple in years past. But amidst all the talk of open space concepts and funky collaboration zones, I was struck by a small one-liner snuck in mid-story: "Lawyers work in sound proof offices with floor to ceiling walls." To which I would add "sort of like they have always done".
As "cool" as open workspaces may seem, in my experience they can pose a real challenge when you have several people in close proximity that all need to be on the phone a good chunk of the day.
Our own offices at Skunkworks are largely open space, and the co-working environment seems to work very well for our creative team (designers, web developers etc.) for whom the phone is not so central. But mix in a handful of loud-talking account managers and management types who are on the phone a significant portion of the day and things can get a bit harried pretty quickly, with everyone retreating into their headphones to try and block out the din, which negates a lot of the magic informal collaboration that open spaces are supposed to foster. McCarthy's designers appear to have struck a good balance here, with a variety of informal collaboration and meeting spaces, but retaining private spaces where the lawyers can regularly "get their phone on" as it were, without disrupting an entire group of colleagues. The glass walls depicted in the photos also provide a feeling of openness while keeping sound contained. Nicely done folks.
(For more of my musings on law firm offices, you can also have a peek at this SLAW.ca column from a few years back: http://www.slaw.ca/2014/05/30/the-office-2/
Lawyers work in sound proof offices with floor to ceiling walls.