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MANAGING THE OFFICE

How one California law firm regained its corporate culture and improved business

How do you grow your firm and still maintain a close-knit team? Jason Pink, Administrator of Gianelli & Associates in Modesto, California, tells how their firm handled it.

We’re a small, but busy, 9-attorney law firm. When we outgrew the 6,500 square foot building we were in, we added an annex at the next door building. We moved three attorneys and a few staff over there. We added a second receptionist.

Then, after a couple of years, we realized a great divide in the culture of our firm. The unity was lost, there was a division, and people weren’t as willing to help each other out.

We made it a point to focus on building a culture of community within our firm. One way to do that was physical space. So, we moved more people into the second building so we could renovate our main building with smaller offices, glass doors, and open floor plan for paralegals to work in closer proximity to each other.

When that was done, we were able to fit everyone into our main building and we got rid of our annex space.

Along with the physical changes, we implemented a monthly potluck and occasionally the office caters lunch. We also offer to buy lunch for staffers who invite other staff that they don’t normally work with or eat with, in order to promote a sense of community.

Needless, to say the results have been fantastic. We’ve had two of our most profitable years in a long time. Not just from the cost savings of having only one building, but from the motivation that everyone feels to be part of a team. Everyone’s billable hours are up, but everyone is more refreshed and excited about work than ever before. People really like their smaller offices; they keep them more organized and that helps them stay more efficient.

We want to grow our firm, but we want to be very careful not to compromise the benefits of a culture of teamwork, community, and efficiency.

I hope our experience will benefit other firms who may be in the same position of having outgrown their main building.


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