Workplace Planning and Design with Ken Baker


In this week’s episode of the Law Practice Doctor, Sam Gaylord interviews Ken Baker. Ken is currently serving as the member of the Gensler Management Committee and is the co-managing principal of Gensler South East Region. Ken is a globally recognized expert in workplace design and planning and has designed over 10 million square feet of office and institution workspace.


  • Who is Ken Baker?
  • What do you mean by workplace design and planning?
  • How is today different for law firms compared to twenty years ago?
  • What is your experience with the different perspectives between the traditional way of doing things and the way millennials want to work?
  • What are firms doing to attract new legal talent?
  • What should firms be doing to help adjust to the trend towards collaboration?
  • Do firms need less space now?
  • Has technology like video conferencing changed the way law firms operate?


Designing Workspace

  • Having an understanding of the structure of a building influences the design of the interior of the building.
  • Inside out design is where the interior and what the space needs to be determines the exterior of the building.
  • Workplace design is about analyzing what the average end user is looking for. It goes beyond offices with windows and is more about the efficiency of the space, ergonomic issues, as well as trends in technology.
  • Trends in design include the focus space, the collaborative space, learning space, as well as the social space. The correspond with four different modes of working.
  • Design is moving away from a traditional modular style of office space.
  • The number of secretaries per lawyer is going down because of the average law graduates technological skill set.
  • Considering the future needs of the law firm is important to considering the design of the workspace today.
  • Allowing people a choice of place to work is a trend in workspace design today.
  • Gensler benchmarks the changes and effects their designs have had to the businesses they have served.

Traditional Vs. Modern

  • Firms are moving towards workspace design that accommodates the new way millennials want to work.
  • There is more focus on the needs of the business instead of the traditional way things have been done in the past.
  • Law firms tend to favour the focus mode but the emerging trend is moving towards collaboration which is growing in importance.
  • The average number of square feet per attorney has gone from 1000 to 650 in the last fifteen years due to technology making the work more efficient with a smaller footprint. The space is mostly being invested in other areas.
  • The ability to communicate via technology has majorly impacted the design of workspaces including the acoustic and lighting aspects considered.

Building Collaboration Space

  • A firm’s design should focus on ubiquitous technology in the workspace. Wifi should be widely available, plug and play options, areas that you can collaborate without interrupting the focused work.
  • Access to natural light is important and making the interior space comfortable and pleasant to work in.
  • Space that isn’t client facing can be made more casual.
  • Beverage and food options where lawyers can escape and decompress and return to work refreshed.

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