Telescope in the new Fennemore Craig lawyer lounge. What's next for the profession?

Telescope in the new Fennemore Craig lawyer lounge. What’s next for the profession?

We’re all wondering what direction the legal profession is heading. Is its foundation sound, or are there cracks that threaten the entire structure?

That’s kind of a heavy concept for Change of Venue Friday. So instead, I will simply share the direction that law firm Fennemore Craig is heading.

Northeast.

Fennemore Craig Managing Partner Tim Berg addresses a pcked room at the new-office reception, June 11, 2013.

Fennemore Craig Managing Partner Tim Berg addresses a pcked room at the new-office reception, June 11, 2013.

Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

On Tuesday, I attended the firm’s new office reception. Or, more accurately, their new building reception, as they now occupy all the floors (save some first-floor space) in their new digs across from the Biltmore Fashion Park.

Their location is now 2394 East Camelback Road, Phoenix (Suite 600).

The event, hosted by managing partner Tim Berg, was nicely done. The spaces are bright and modern, and the walls are lined with the firm’s collection of striking art. Though I always liked their old offices on Central Avenue (in the building that once housed Phoenix’s Playboy Club), this looks like quite a nice building.

Fennemore Craig lawyer lounge 3The firm’s executive director, Kathy Hancock, gave me a tour of the spaces. She demonstrated how the building’s shape dictated that offices now come in quite a variety of shapes. Some lawyers, I’d guess, might take a tape measure to the square footage to assess “parity,” but the diversity of spaces is kind of refreshing.

Kathy also pointed out how the firm had reduced its huge trove of print law books. And those that remain have been divided and shared throughout the building. No more will the firm have a single large library. Instead, the volumes are housed near the relevant lawyers and practice areas, aiding ready access.

She also showed me the building’s less-traveled spaces, which houses the multiplicity of back-end tasks that keep a law firm moving. That space includes kitchens, including catering spaces, storage, and a staff lunch room that is large, sunny, well stocked and adjacent to a large outdoor deck.

In contrast, the lawyer lounge is quite a bit ritzier (click the photos below to enlarge). No surprise there. But the surprise came when I compared the sizes of the spaces. Seating and lighting may be more mod in the lawyer space, but that lounge is pretty diminutive in size—apropos in a profession where attorneys are encouraged to stretch their legs for a bit, but not get carried away and forget the work awaiting them in their office.

Fennemore Craig lawyer lounge 1

Fennemore Craig lawyer lounge

Fennemore Craig lawyer lounge 2

One charming feature of the lawyer lounge is a beautiful telescope on a tripod. It reminded me that all law firms must be seeking tools to gaze forward and predict the future of this profession. The telescopic view I gained from that lounge was merely a close-up of Macy’s department store—and Camelback Mountain beyond. The next few years will show which firms have raised their gaze even higher. Success in a changing marketplace will require it.

For some contrast, I share below one vintage photo of Fennemore Craig lawyers. Even if they had possessed the Hubble Telescope, I doubt they could have envisioned the profession as it is today.

Fennemore Craig lawyers, closer to their beginnings 127 years ago.

Fennemore Craig lawyers, closer to their beginnings 127 years ago.

I will leave you with one gulp-inducing fact Kathy shared with me: In the process of moving the 127-year-old firm, their leadership took a hard look at paper materials, deciding what had to be saved and what could be discarded. Ultimately, Kathy says, the firm threw out 15 tons of paper in various forms.

15 tons.

As I type, I am surrounded by my own stacks, as I’m sure you are. I must admit I have never taken a scale to them, but I blanch at the thought of the extra weight associated with my work.

Look around. How heavy are you?

Have a great weekend.

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