“A miserable dungeon”: What clients really think of your offices

In-house counsel have described DAC Beachcroft’s meeting rooms as “a miserable dungeon”, as part of an attitudinal survey on workspace carried out by The Lawyer. 

The survey, compiled for The Lawyer Workspace Trends report, released on Monday (6 November), asked in-house counsel for their views on which firms had the best and worst client facilities.

CMS Nabarro Olswang’s state-of-the-art offices in Cannon Place divided opinion, with some describing them as similar to a five-star hotel and others saying it was a “very odd building”.

“There is no obvious place to go when you arrive, there is just a big space with a desk offset in the middle, while there seems to be lots of staff wandering around but none seem keen to welcome/help you,” mused a third respondent of CMS.

Sweet treats proved to be a good way to getting the clients on side, with White & Case’s freshly-baked biscuits and Slaughter and May’s Jelly Babies on reception both being picked out.

In-house counsel also love a good view. Clifford Chance, Norton Rose Fulbright and Reed Smith were all cited for their offices’ vistas, although one of the respondents who said Clifford Chance’s views were good also noted the firm’s Canary Wharf base is “slightly painful to get to”.

In contrast, DAC Beachcroft’s Fetter Lane offices did not get a positive review. Meanwhile Clyde & Co’s lift system is confusing one of the firm’s clients, who said it was “daft”.

A significant minority of clients also see the rise in open plan law firms as a concern, raising potential issues over confidentiality.

The survey showed that almost a third of in-house counsel are worried that client confidentiality is at risk when their external advisers work in open plan offices.

Respondents said working in an open plan space distracted staff and detracted from the confidential nature of many lawyers’ work.

However clients were much more welcoming of the rise in flexible working, with the overwhelming majority (88 per cent) saying their lawyers should be able to work in an agile way – provided they were still able to give timely and consistent advice.

The Lawyer Workspace Trends report is one of five reports in the UK 200 series. To purchase any of these reports please contact either Gilberto Esgaio on +44 207 970 4191 or gilberto.esgaio@centaurmedia.com, or Letitia Austin on +44 207 970 4662 or letitia.austin@centaurmedia.com.