Network Firm News

Monday, February 24, 2003

Trophy offices disappear as law firms get practical
Delaware Online -- Maureen Milford -- 2/24/03
Increased competition and rising costs - including hefty salaries for associates, jumbo rents and unwieldy health insurance payments - are forcing firms to nip and tuck.

The shift is evident in Delaware, where law firms are the second-biggest users of office space in downtown Wilmington - behind only the major corporations, according to real-estate brokers.

The legal community has expanded dramatically during the past decade as the state has become a center for federal bankruptcy and patent cases. The profession generated 1.3 percent of the gross state product in 2000, double the contribution in 1977.

"The environment is really competitive and cost-sensitive," said Jeffrey B. Bove, managing partner of Connolly, Bove, Lodge & Hutz, a Wilmington-based international firm that specializes in intellectual property matters. "We don't want to be wasteful. We don't want to invest in things that don't have a strategic purpose."

As a result, firms are abandoning the trophy office with expensive wood finishes. Some have even gone to a cookie-cutter design, making all the offices the same size regardless of attorney status or seniority.

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