Fascinating article from the Lawyer 200, comparing the cost and utilisation of office space among law firms. Full article here.
As they point out, property and people are the biggest expenses facing law firms, with property falling squarely into the fixed costs category. Headcount can at least be changed according to the fortunes of the firm. It therefore makes sense to maximise its utilisation.
However, this does need to be tied to capacity planning, so that a firm does not suddenly run out of space. It is often possible to take additional space in nearby building, but at the cost of increased management difficulty and reduced cohesion.
Allen & Overy’s Belfast office is mentioned, essentially a support centre in a cheaper location. A creative approach to managing property costs can pay off, even without formal outsourcing. Even 30 years ago I worked for a firm with offices in the City and in leafy Surrey.