The image of lawyers working among bookshelves crammed with legal texts is fading away as law firms move to more modern offices that swap out law libraries for meeting spaces and paper files for tablets.
In the case of Tydings & Rosenberg LLP, the Baltimore firm got rid of its library and only brought one-sixth of its books from its old offices at 100 E. Pratt St. to its new digs across the street. The firm moved to 1 E. Pratt St. after 26 years at the T. Rowe Price building.
While the new office has half the square footage of its former home, Tydings has “more room to work in less space,” said managing partner Bill Carrier.
“We’re taking advantage of space in ways we haven’t in the past,” he added during a tour of the new office before the move last week.
Other firms have followed the same philosophy.
After 30 years in its offices at Bethesda Metro Center, Lerch, Early & Brewer Chtd. moved to a more “efficient” space two weeks ago.
“It’s just so open. It feels good, it feels different,” COO David H. Anderson said about the move to 7600 Wisconsin Ave.
Lerch Early expanded three times in its old space as the firm doubled in size over the last 16 years.
“When you have space like that…everything starts to look disjointed and it didn’t flow well for us,” Anderson said.
Finding a space and planning the move was about a two-year process. The firm enlisted its youngest members to come up with a modern work space. The new office has meeting spaces on each floor for ad hoc meetings and employees have stand-up desks and dual monitors.
“When they’re at work, they want it to be nice,” Anderson said. “They want it to be fresh, they want it to be open.”
When Bowie & Jensen LLC decided to move from the Susquehanna Building in Towson, its home since its inception in 1990, it wanted more space for attorneys to get together, even if it was to just eat lunch.
“There was no question that we wanted to have a much more collaborative work space,” said managing partner Matthew G. Hjortsberg.
Bowie & Jensen’s new office, at 210 W. Pennsylvania Ave., has better lighting, more efficient space and updated technology, he said.
“It’s a much cleaner look,” Hjortsberg said. “People who come here are amazed.”
Moving to new offices also gave the three firms the chance to purge paper records. Lerch Early also is moving toward going paperless to address the reduced amount of storage in the new office for onsite records.
“In a two-month period, the amount of tons of paper we threw out was phenomenal,” Anderson said. “We were able to get a fresh start on everything.”
At Bowie & Jensen, when the firm closes a case, it scans all papers in the case file and throws out the paperwork, reducing the need for file storage space in the new office, said Hjortsberg.
At Tydings, Carrier got rid of books in his own collection that he had kept from his law school days. The firm as a whole significantly cut down on paper storage and is mostly digital but doesn’t plan on going fully paperless.
“There’s no getting away from files,” he said.
While all three firms made large changes inside their new offices, they were all committed to staying in their neighborhoods.
Lerch Early looked at office space outside of Bethesda but decided to stay local, despite the higher rent, Anderson said.
“We consider ourselves to be a Bethesda-based firm,” he said.
Tydings & Rosenberg looked at 10 locations but never considered moving out of downtown Baltimore because of its easy access to public transportation, Carrier said.
“We have people who come from north, south, east and west,” he said.
The new office brings one large change for Tydings. While the firm previously occupied multiple floors in the T. Rowe Price in building, everyone is on the same floor now, Carrier said.
“It’s not an environment we’ve had experience with before, but we’re very excited,” he said.