Changing workforce demographics, a tightening labour market, next wave technologies, increased competition and rapidly changing customer needs. Just some of the challenges and opportunities facing the legal sector. The success of the future law firm will rely on fostering talent in-house in the face of a tight labour market, innovating with greater agility and investing in transformative technologies all of which require the co-location of different teams in a high-quality workspace. Jennifer Townsend, Associate in Knight Frank’s occupier research team and Eamon Fox, Head of the Knight Frank Leeds office, spoke to Bruce Lightbody and Caroline Cleveley from Addleshaw Goddard to discover how their 2016 relocation to a landmark new development located opposite its old offices on Sovereign Street is helping the law firm succeed both now and in the future.

Fostering talent in-house

A recent law firm survey found that attracting and retaining the right talent was the number one concern for law firms over the next three years. Addleshaw Goddard are addressing this through a “grow your own” strategy of offering alternative career paths. The Leeds office has been designed so that fee-earners and non-fee earners sit in the same space and in the same location enabling on the job training and facilitating the sharing of knowledge.  This set-up has not come at the expense of meeting the individual needs of different functions. Design features include telephone rooms and cubicles for private legal work that sit alongside collaborative plug and play space. 

Investing in technology

Addleshaw Goddard takes technology seriously. Expenditure on IT has increased by 50% over the last four years including investments in office based technology, productivity software and investment in innovative legal tech. Technology teams sit within the Leeds office, which helps attract digital talent who want to be in amenity rich city centres. It also enables multi-disciplinary working. It is commonplace to have legal technologists working with paralegals and fee-earners on projects. 

Technology investments are also shaping the Leeds workspace, with the employee experience very much in mind. The office already has video-conferencing facilities in all meeting rooms with ongoing trials in smart technology such as apps to book meeting rooms and apps that enable more collaborative ways of working either in the office or working remotely. 

Innovating with greater agility

The previous office in Leeds restricted collaboration with its cellular design, this new space has been curated to positively encourage it. A key component is the café which promotes “casual collision” between employees. It has the added benefit of promoting employee health and wellbeing by offering healthy subsidised food options. 

 Bruce and Caroline are in no doubt that the Leeds relocation is playing a key role in helping the firm succeed. As Bruce puts it “The move has created an extreme feel good factor both with employees but also with clients”.  Caroline adds that the firm has seen increases in employee engagement since the move with a recent workplace survey highlighting that the office was scored highly by employees for supporting a positive impact on their productivity in the workplace.  

When Addleshaw Goddard were deciding where to locate in Leeds they choose somewhere that puts people, technology and innovation first. The result is higher employee engagement, greater collaboration and more opportunities for on the job training and knowledge exchange positioning them perfectly to navigate the challenges ahead.