19/10/2017 - 13:52

Right fit for law firm

19/10/2017 - 13:52

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Perfecting the look and feel of a new office space can often take centre stage for incoming tenants, but for international law firm Allen & Overy a key priority for its new premises was a little different.

Right fit for law firm
Geoff Simpson says the firm places a big emphasis on protecting confidential information and on cybersecurity. Photos: Attila Csaszar

Perfecting the look and feel of a new office space can often take centre stage for incoming tenants, but for international law firm Allen & Overy a key priority for its new premises was a little different.

IT-system upgrades, soundproofed meeting rooms, and concealed state-of-the-art security technology and infrastructure are among the measures Allen & Overy has taken to ensure the protection of confidential information at its new home in Exchange Tower.

Managing partner Geoff Simpson said while the firm hadn’t shifted far when it took up a new lease, brokered by Savills, earlier this month – leaving 1,033 square metres across levels 27 and 29 to take out a 10-year lease for a full floor on level 12 (1,498sqm) of the same building – extensive planning had gone into the move.

“We had grown, our leases were coming to an end and it wasn’t ideal to be sharing floors,” Mr Simpson told Business News.

“We looked at a lot of different buildings and eventually came to the conclusion that where we were was the right end of town; the Supreme Court next door was good for the litigators, we’re across from Elizabeth Quay, there are quality views … nothing quite compared.

“The owners had also spent money upgrading the foyer and bathrooms on various floors, so when level 12 came up, it shaded some of the other options around town.”

The new digs were custom designed, headed by A&O’s London-based internal team responsible for overseeing the firm’s office fitouts, in collaboration with ATA Engineering and interior design practice Geyer.

“There are mandatory requirements that are set from head office in London for A&O offices all around the world, regardless of location,” Mr Simpson said.

“They cover both the look and minimum specifications for what you can see in a fitout and stringent standards around elements that you can’t – the behind-the-scenes structures, services and processes required to support the work we do for our clients.”

The soundproofing of meeting rooms and offices, as well as an upgrade to audio-visual systems and consistent IT infrastructure, allowing staff to log on anywhere in the world, were some of the parameters set for the Perth fitout.

Mr Simpson said the firm had also brought the security system for the new premises in-house to ensure it had full control over who had access to its floor.

“There is a big emphasis on being able to protect confidential information and on cybersecurity,” he said.

“It’s elevated in our priorities against other organisations because at the end of the day it is reputational death if there are breaches of confidential information for a law firm.”

The interior design, Mr Simpson said, had also been completed to A&O’s high global standard, but that didn’t mean input from Perth staff had been left out of the process to find the right office balance.

“We had a good six-month period of extensively consulting with our staff,” he said.

“One of the key pieces of feedback was that there needed to be the right mix of open-plan, collaborative space, offices and meeting rooms. The nature of the work we do means that confidentiality is important, so to go completely open-plan wouldn’t be an option.

“A big kitchen and break area was another part of the feedback, to lure people from their offices and chat to different groups within the organisation.”

London-based consultancy KKS led the staff consultation process, with Perth refurbishment specialist Opra Projects completing the build.

Staff opted to name the boardroom and meeting rooms after Western Australian beaches including Yallingup, Greens Pool, Cable Beach and Bunker Bay.

Mr Simpson said the team was still finalising the décor, with the local touch reinforced by timber finishes and the search for artwork by WA artists and photographers under way.

 

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