Trend to Fewer Conference Rooms in Law Offices — Why & Implications

ConferenceLaw firms are building fewer conference rooms. New law offices have significantly fewer “conference seats per lawyer” than in the past.

Why?

  • Technology: audio and video conference capabilities reduce the need for in-person meetings.
  • Culture shift: clients do not visit lawyers so much anymore; lawyers go to clients.
  • Money: law firms are not spending as they once did.

Fewer face-to-face meetings come with a cost – to effective communications.

Douglas Rushkoff says that 94% of communication is not verbal. And, he observes that in audio and video conferences the bandwidth of communications is reduced almost entirely to the verbal.

Nassim Taleb points out that we know far more than we can communicate with words, although we can communicate that knowledge by other means. He cites Guy Deutscher. (Fascinatingly, Taleb says the ancient Greeks had no word for the color “blue,” a fact first observed by British Prime Minister William Gladstone. The Greeks had words only for about four colors, thus accounting for the “wine-darkness” of the sea.)

Rushkoff observes that when we communicate solely by means of audio and video connections, the substance of the communication is limited and cramped in important ways. Communications that come this way are more apt to be impulsive, uncompromising and without nuance.

So, we are having fewer face-to-face meetings. Our technology-enabled meetings are cramped and truculent. And we are jammed up against the limits of our language.

Lawyers need to know more about this trend and the consequences. And what color the sea, when dark, really is (I never bought that it was red).

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