Navigating Disruption in the Legal Space in Australia | Tenant Talks Recap

Navigating Disruption in the Legal Space in Australia: a Tenant Talks Recap

On February 17th, Axiom of Australia hosted the latest edition of our virtual speaker series, Tenant Talks™. The moderator and panelists talked about navigating disruption in the legal space as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our panelists were representatives from Coleman Grieg, K&L Gates, and Holman Webb. Fiona Craig, our moderator, is founder of the Womens Lawyer Academy. 

We wanted to know:

    • How has COVID changed the work environment?
    • Is working remotely here to stay? 
    • Is business running as usual? 
    • What processes have changed for the better? 


Keep reading to learn more! (Prefer to watch it yourself? Click here for a video recording.)


Question #1: How have things changed overall for your workplace in the last year?

Warrick McLean, CEO of Coleman Greig, said COVID-19 has actually fast-tracked a lot of changes. 

“When things are forced upon people and we have no choice, lawyers, in terms of their ability to experiment and get on with things, has come to the fore,” he explained.

Steering the conversation towards the physical office, Dion Cussack, Corporate Services Manager at K&L Gates, mentioned that his firm has actually been back in the office for months now. Bronwyn and Warrick both said they’ve seen a mix of both working remotely and at the workplace 


Fiona then polled the audience to ask how many days a week they would like to work from home going forward. 

An overwhelming 69% of the audience said they would like to work from home 1-2 days per week, which means they’d prefer being back in the workplace 3-4 days per week


Question #2: Has there been a need to reorganize your workplaces to conform to social distancing rules and other new norms?

Dion said his firm was lucky enough to already have an office designed for employees to be six feet apart from each other. 

Warrick addressed some of the challenges that his firm faced in adhering to the social distancing guidelines. With an office of 30 something year-olds used to collaborating and working in teams, staying six feet apart isn’t easy. But Warrick said that the key to any challenge is flexibility, especially as we head into 2021 and year two of the pandemic. 

He ended the topic discussion with, “I think COVID lends itself that people have to be flexible, and people have to get on the bus.”


Question #3: How are your firms encouraging employees to come back to the office after working remotely for so long?

Bronwyn Pott brought up the fact that it’s really dependent on whether employees even want to come back to the office. But the most important thing is engagement – regardless of whether the firm is working virtually or in the office.  

“I think it’s just about the level of engagement that you’ve got. You can have it virtually or in-person, it depends on what you want to try and get out of it in the end,” Bronwyn said. 


At this point there was a question from an audience member, who asked whether our panelists have seen a reduction in productivity at their firms.

Warrick said that lawyers in his firm have not reduced their productivity, but alternatively have actually started working longer hours. 


Fiona then asked the audience and panelists to answer a poll regarding whether they think they’ll have to move or change their office layout to attract employees back to the office. 

The answers were pretty scattered and inconclusive:

  • 27% said they would modify their existing offices
  • 13% said they would relocate and expand
  • 33% said they would relocate and downsize (majority)
  • 27% said there were no changes necessary


Question #4: If we are looking to plan for a year from now, what purpose do you think a physical workplace fulfills for an organization going forward?

Brownwyn answered first. She made the point that, regardless of whether your layout is conducive to going back to the office now or later, a physical office is an anchor. It’s a common ground for all employees.

“I think it’s an anchor and a focus. It’s having a physical presence; it’s the focal point,” she said of the physical office. 

Fiona and the panelists quickly discussed whether there were any concerns in their firms with open floor plans as they relate to confidentiality. Bronwyn talked about a firm that she fitted-out that had an open floor plan. This particular plan included “quiet rooms” for when lawyers need to take private calls. 

She also said, “The young lawyers sitting beside senior partners. That’s just a really wonderful thing to see. All that mentoring and what they absorb from hearing them on the phone with their clients.” 


The group had a great discussion about the future of the workplace and how they’ve adapted to changes over the last year. 

Find out how our panelists answered our Rapid Fire Questions! You can watch the full TenantTalks™ video recording here.

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