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Open Plan Offices and Solicitors

Open plan offices are the bane of our lives as recruiters. Some firms insist on them, as it is good for the boss – he sits in a nice large office at the end of the hall containing the workers, and has a significant amount of credibility. The workmen all huddle around desks set out at seemingly random intervals across the floor, with just about sufficient space to put a photo up and speak to someone on the phone without another person hearing 2 metres away.

Solicitors on the whole, I have found, absolutely detest them. It gets back to the whole picture of becoming a solicitor – you get status; spend 8 years of your life studying away to earn what a good secretary does in other firms, and then find you are expected to base yourself on the shop floor with other similarly suffering lawyers who get more and more depressed and cynical as they go on.

Alternatively, some people love them! They get to interact with others, ask questions of more senior staff without needing to knock on their doors, and deal much more quickly with problems.

I do think at times though firms seem to rush into designing these without consulting with the very people who will be working in them. Practice managers are not often the best people to ask – usually solicitors regard themselves as superior in mind & status and taking a HR director or Practice Manager’s advice on the issue is not sufficient – it has to be the staff and solicitors who are going to be mostly affected who affect your decision. Time and again candidates state that one of the main reasons for moving firms is because of an open plan office.

Author: Jonathan Fagan MIRP MAC Cert RP LLM Solicitor (non-practising) – Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment ( – save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! Jonathan Fagan is a specialist legal recruitment consultant, author of the Complete Guide to Writing a Legal CV and the Guide to Interviews for Lawyers. He has recruited for law firms across the UK and overseas in all shapes and sizes. If you have any questions that we have not covered above, please email us at

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at