Discover which areas are essential to creating the Optimal Office in the legal industry

Create an office that’s ready for the digital age, tailored to a legal firm’s unique needs and agile enough to respond to new processes and technology. 

Transformation projects can be daunting, especially in the legal industry. But they’re more essential now than ever.

Evaluating the needs of your business – and most importantly, your people – is the first step in tackling those challenges and creating the Optimal Office.

“A lot of companies use workplace transformation projects as a shortcut for changing company culture – it’s easy to think that if we look like an innovative company, then we’ll behave like one. Sadly, this is the wrong way around. First, analyse how your business behaves. Then you can design a workplace that enhances the good parts and remedies the bad.”

Mike Baddeley – Head of Strategy and Innovation, Ricoh UK

What challenges are legal firms most commonly facing?

The legal industry has typically been one of the most paper-heavy in the world, so even the task of scanning, archiving and digitising information alone might seem extensive. 

But legal firms also need to be able to search and track files in a variety of forms – both digital and physical – in an increasingly agile way, with some organisations turning to Artificial Intelligence for the answer.

And that’s before governance and confidentiality come into play –  a growing concern following reports that hackers stole over £85 million from law firms over an 18-month period.

In this article, we’ll delve into these challenges and offer practical solutions across four key areas of your organisation.

What is the Optimal Office?

 The Optimal Office is a people-centred approach to digital transformation. It requires a deep understanding of your people and the way they work. Only then can you create workplace strategies that unlock their potential.

Many legal firms begin with aesthetic considerations: What will our meetings room look like? What kind of plants or artwork will decorate the walls? This is a mistake.

Click to read A Legal Firm’s Guide to Creating an Optimal Office


Explore how your workplace functions as an interconnected system of individuals, processes and technologies. And then use this data to make better-informed decisions. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  •   Is your workplace designed to function and inspire?
  •   Are processes designed with purpose and productivity in mind?
  •   Is the full value of all available resource, space and technology being realised?

What are the four key areas of business for transformation? 

When planning for digital transformation, there are four key areas to evaluate – Process, Workspace, Technology, and People.

If you approach each of these distinct areas appropriately, you’ll find the journey much smoother. But what do they incorporate?

The first key area – Process

 By understanding your current processes and identifying inefficiencies, you can effectively streamline them. And in a way that not only improves productivity but also embeds security and sustainability. 

The process challenges most commonly faced during transformation include: 

  •   Cutting down on hard copy documents (e.g. delivery notes, expenses, invoices)
  •   Streamlining on-site print and mailroom operations
  •   Incorporating intelligent, rule-based workflows
  •   Creating dashboards and real-time analytics

Next up – Workspace

“The first step in any workplace refresh should be quantitative and qualitative research. Without this, you’re flying blind.”

Paul Twitchell – Director of Workplace Services, Ricoh UK

Gathering hard data on how your workplace is used, and designing spaces that facilitate modern and agile ways of working, can help you reduce costs and improve employee engagement – and push you towards achieving the Optimal Office.

And not only will providing more flexible and adaptable workspaces empower your current employees to work more effectively and be their best selves, but you’ll also be better placed to attract and retain the best talent.

Legal firms often face these workspace challenges during transformation:

  •   Gathering hard data on how your workplace is used
  •   Designing spaces that facilitate modern and agile workstyles
  •   Reducing wasted meeting time

The third key area – Technology

Supply devices that empower your people to work how and where they feel most productive. Equip meeting spaces with technology that fosters collaboration. This will enable you to optimise how technology supports your workforce – and get the most value out of IT investments and infrastructure. 

Technology often produces these tedious challenges during transformation: 

  •   Supplying devices that support agile and remote working
  •   Equipping meeting spaces with technology that enables teamwork
  •   Providing 24/7 uptime, support, backups and security
  •   Giving your teams best-in-class technological solutions

And most importantly – your People

The Optimal Office can only be achieved by paying due attention to your most valuable assets – your people. It’s vital that you understand their needs and preferences and provide support throughout the whole process of digital transformation. 

“Change management is the red thread that runs through every transformation project. Without it, there’s little chance that the changes will stick or be properly applied day-to-day.”

Rebekah Wallis – Director of People & Corporate Responsibility, Ricoh UK

The first step to empowering your staff is listening to them. Your staff and their behaviour and values – not technology or process – are the key drivers of digital transformation in the legal industry.

The major challenges facing legal firms during digital transformation are: 

  •   Understanding your workforces’ IT needs and preferred ways of working
  •   Encouraging staff to adopt new process or technologies
  •   Finding new ways to attract, retain and upskill your staff
  •   Enabling staff to work remotely, on the move and on a range of devices
  •   Filling skills or resource gaps with temporary or specialist resource

Where can I find more information about the Optimal Office for the legal industry?

To read more on how to begin your transformation journey, read our article Law Firm Transformation: Successful Strategies for Future-Facing Firms.

For a more in-depth overview of how to approach digital transformation in the legal industry, have a read of our new Legal Optimal Office guide. And if you have any questions or want to carry on the conversation, feel free to drop me a line on LinkedIn.


Andrew Grant

Director Legal Services at Ricoh UK

Read all articles by Andrew Grant