New Jersey firm has a nice book of business thanks to a willingness to both study and influence the industry it serves.
By Richard Massey
DMR Architects of New Jersey has been retained by six law firms in New Jersey and one in California for projects that encompass relocation assistance and retrofit, office expansion, interior renovations, and interior design. How was DMR able to win so much niche work? The firm knows the market.
“Law office redesigns and build-outs are a particularly robust category for architects as firms merge and respond to technology’s influence on their physical locations,” says Lloyd Rosenberg, founder and president of DMR Architects. “Lawyers need less space and less support staff and community uses such as law libraries are being downsized or eliminated. While a large conference room remains an integral asset in most large firms, there also is a need for a cluster of smaller offices so the various sides of contentious or confidential work can be efficiently performed.”
Rosenberg took the time to answer a few questions from The Zweig Letter.
The Zweig Letter: What kind of team do you assemble to win so much of this kind of work?
LR: DMR has built a diverse staff over its 25-year history in response to market needs resulting in our being able to provide professional and urban planning including site analysis, sustainable services, facilitating public-private partnerships, engineering services, interior design, and project management. Our clients appreciate that we can provide so many services seamlessly under one roof as well as the network of colleagues that we can introduce them to in related fields.
TZL: You show a great deal of knowledge about what modern law offices have to have to serve the client. How did you obtain that knowledge?
LR: When we come into a law firm, they are asking us to resolve functional issues. We’ve worked with a lot of law firms, but we’ve also worked with clients in other industries that have similar issues – downsizing and repurposing space, for example – that we’ve been able to convert into relevant solutions for our legal clients.
We also bring in our ability to envision what hasn’t been done yet and use that vision to address a law firm’s current needs in a way that recognizes that they are a distinct entity business with unique issues that require a custom-fit solution.
TZL: What is the trick to winning this kind of work? Marketing, project management, pricing, experience in the field, specialized proposals, etc.?
LR: DMR has staff with skill sets that speak to clients’ needs at every stage of a project; we can be there for site selection and help negotiate with the real estate broker, provide the plans, manage relationships with the builder and other contractors, and take it all the way through to choosing the right paint colors and textures, and design for the furniture. This has been a successful equation for 25 years, earning us both repeat business and referrals from our legal clients.
TZL: What is the market like in this niche field and how long has it been a “hot” market?
LR: Lawyers have clients too, and they don’t want to pay by the hour for unnecessarily large offices, ostentatious furnishing, and oversized windows so that their lawyers can enjoy the view. DMR has seen an uptick in the need for downsizing and redesigning to speak to this. Additionally, similar to the healthcare industry, firms that can afford to are expanding by creating small satellite offices so that clients can see them within their community instead of having to travel larger distances to that firm’s headquarters.
TZL: In general, how does a firm anticipate a trend?
LR: People in our industry trigger the trends by looking at how our clients need to use their space and addressing their new business models in unique and creative ways. When our clients said they were not meeting with clients in their personal offices, and that they were using fewer paralegals, we made the “corner offices” smaller, and provided less room in the “bull pens” in order to make additional conference rooms.
DMR studies the architecture industry as much as we influence it. We are also committed to the continued education of our staff, and are not afraid to take ideas that we’ve seen in other industries and apply them to address needs in legal offices. We’ve taken a lot of the principles that have been applied to revamping marketing firm spaces for millennials and applied them to our legal clients. By doing so, we’ve created an environment that fosters innovation.