Canadian Lawyer

July 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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www.canadianlawyermag.com 5 ized with digital elements like digital family photos when they arrive. The system will notify mentors and lawyers in the same practice group when their peers are in the office to encourage in-person collaboration. A lawyer will be able to book space for a prolonged period, but if they go on vacation for two weeks, the firm will personalize the office for someone else. "What I have learned is that this is very personal to people," says chief administra- tive officer Didhiti Bhoumik. "And that you really have to give this personalization back to people for them to feel that space belongs to them when they are there." Dharam Dheensaw is the chief information officer at Harper Grey LLP in Vancouver. He says his firm is growing but does not plan to expand its office. By using their space differ- ently, Harper Grey hopes to provide flexibility for its current lawyers and have more room for new staff. "The main reason why lawyers and staff want to come into the office is [for] impromptu face-to-face interaction." Dan Boram, AURA Dheensaw says a key consideration for any redesign is offering lawyers a quiet space to work if they do come into the office. "For lawyers," says Dheensaw, "they really need that private, contained thinking space. And that is much different than other like the tech industry, for instance, where you can put 100 people in a room, and they can work with high productivity." Sadiar Ameri, the branch manager for recruiter Robert Half Legal in Toronto, says that the competition for talent in the legal profession is fierce, and candidates now expect flexibility. "If you're planning on hiring or increasing headcount, you definitely want to be flexible in terms of having an office space," Ameri says. Law firm offices need to be "spacious enough to adhere to the safety protocols and social distancing, and [give] different people having their own rooms or space to work in comfortably." THE POST-PANDEMIC OFFICE Borden Ladner Gervais reimagined how their offices will work, starting with a pilot in their Toronto office. They are taking the following approach in their use of space and technology: • Space and offices are available to anybody and everybody who wants to come in • Connected space for virtual disputes and "smart offices" • Data and analytics used to incorporate in-office collaboration • Real estate portfolio will evolve based on real- time usage and data • HVAC and airflow changes • Regular cleaning and on-demand with smart tech • Security (in-office and home-office) • Increased tech usage and allowance • In-office targeted health and wellness program

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