What do top law firms need to consider when making a change in office space?
Category Market News
Exposure and growth. These are the two fundamental motivators behind top Durban law firm, Livingston Leandy Incorporated, choosing to relocate and expand their La Lucia offices to Umhlanga Rocks Drive. We take a closer look at the growth within their dynamic business and how property group JT Ross work with businesses like Livingston Leandy, to fulfil their individual property requirements.
Over recent years, and as a result of consolidating their law practice in central Durban, Livingston Leandy expanded into additional space on a separate floor at their existing La Lucia office address. While this resolved the issue at hand, operating their business over two floors was no longer ideal.
“With further growth underway and future planning, the offices will now move to one floor plate allowing a more seamless operation of the business”, said Subashnee Moodley, Managing Director of Livingston Leandy. “This move enables us to design and use the space more effectively which will benefit the staff and operational efficiencies.”
Located directly onto Umhlanga Rocks Drive in the La Lucia office precinct, their new offices will be extremely accessible to clients, improving client engagement and facilitating training.
The new office development incorporates two levels of offices and two levels of underground parking, with open parking close to the entrance. Livingston Leandy will be occupying the entire ground floor from mid 2018. The building forms part of the Glass House Office Park’ and subsequently the building design includes significant glass windows, in keeping with the neighbouring and original “Glass House” office building. Recessive sunscreens add an element of modern appeal and the white facades highlight a striking entrance.
Architect Barry St Ledger Denny and the precinct design review committee work simultaneously to ensure the external aesthetics adhere to the design principles of the La Lucia Ridge urban framework, resulting in a sophisticated and unimposing building which is not only elegant, but functional and efficient.
The floor plate is ideal for open plan offices, but also for the specific requirements of a law firm, as it’s ideally suited for cellular offices, each with a generous amount of external facing windows. There is plenty of natural light incorporated into the design, allowing it to filter through to the open plan offices.
Access for visitors is directly off Umhlanga Rocks drive and staff enter and exit through the park’s main entrance off Sinembe Crescent.
Office layout and design
For a law firm like Livingston Leandy, the boardroom, consulting rooms, reception area and library are intrinsic to the design of the office space.
The interior layout has been designed by JT Ross’s internal space planner and interior designer, Tarryn Trotter, working closely with the partners at Livingston Leandy to achieve their brief, which was to move to a modern new office while maintaining the integrity of their longstanding reputation. Inspiration behind the design can be described as “a sense of old-school charm with a modern twist.”
“Livingston Leandy have beautiful natural yellowwood furniture in their boardroom and meeting rooms which they are re-using in their new office. The traditional furniture mixed with modern and contemporary finishes works incredibly well and is on-point with projected office trends for 2018.” explains Tarryn.
Finishes include plush wall to wall carpets; matt-grey porcelain tiles; charcoal powder coated aluminium and white Caesarstone - with a touch of natural greenery in sleek duco planter boxes, all perfectly complemented by the natural lighting of the building.
Privacy, without alienating
The blueprint for Livingston Leandy’s reception area is spacious and inviting with due consideration given to clients and visitors need for privacy. It was therefore vital to form separate zones without cluttering or dividing the space.
A ‘coffee shop’ style meeting area forms part of the reception, which will not only allow for less formal meetings with clients where appropriate, but also adds a sense of conviviality and openness, a part of Livingston Leandy’s ethos. Similarly, the smell of freshly brewed coffee is not only inviting, but conveys a comfortable tone in an otherwise formal and sometimes tense environment.
An extensive balcony at the rear of the building is a peaceful breakaway for staff and wonderful setting for client entertainment and staff social gatherings.
Livingston Leandy goes back more than 100 years. They are a well established firm, as well as an enterprising legal entity which adjusts itself to an ever advancing business world. Along with the streamlining of their office space and expansion, they have started the process of implementing and integrating their technical systems which form part of their strategic forward plan.
The firm specialises in commercial, litigation, estates and property law at present.
“We do believe that in order to stay relevant we need to grow our areas of specialisation and in this regard we are wishing to expand our labour, matrimonial and environmental offerings.” says Subashnee.
Advice for new law firms
We asked what advice a firm like Livingston Leandy would share for a law firm moving into their first office space. “Location is important and while you may not want to initially over-commit yourself, a new law firm must be mindful of the need for some space for future growth. Once you have established a presence you don’t necessarily want to move because you have outgrown your office space.”
Choice of landlord and developer is imperative
There has been an association between JT Ross and Livingston Leandy since the law firm originally took up space on La Lucia Ridge 13 years ago at The Square. In 2010, they relocated to a new building at Glass House Office Park within the JT Ross portfolio, and once again the property group is honoured to facilitate a further move and expansion with a long standing and valued client.
“We consider JT Ross to be a responsive and proactive landlord who deliver a quality product at competitive rentals” says Subashnee.
Both companies have been in business for more than a century and clearly both embrace the continued changes that come their way.
Author: Robyn Renzow