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In new offices at Harrison Square, Carson Boxberger aims to create new style

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Friday, February 22, 2013 - 6:36 am

Carson Boxberger, its attorneys and staff are moving only a few blocks on the map, but decades in attitude, if surroundings provide a reliable guide.

The law firm, which has 15 partners and about 50 employees total, planned to leave its office at 1400 One Summit Square on Friday and move into the second floor of the Harrison, 301 W. Jefferson Blvd.

The firm's new office is ringed in walls of windows, between the downtown skyline to the north and Parkview Field next door to the south. Its attorneys have offices the same size behind glass walls. Support staff who work at desks in open areas between the walls lined with attorneys' offices share the same views their bosses enjoy.

Tim Pape, managing partner of the firm, says that settling on the uncommonly egalitarian office arrangement didn't prove too difficult.

“Are we trying to serve the ends of lawyers and their sense of accomplishment...or are we trying to serve the needs of clients? ... When you ask yourself the question, 'What makes the most sense to get the work done and meet the needs of clients?,' things fall away pretty quickly.”

Pape said this greater degree of flexibility and openness help meet new expectations from clients, who insist that law firms push work as far down the ladder of employee skills as possible, so that they aren't being billed attorney hours for work that paralegals could have done.

Most clients who visit the firm will meet attorneys in conference rooms that form a hub around the elevator in the Harrison. It's not that they are barred from other areas of the firm's new offices, he said. But clustering most of the areas for meetings improves the “security of client information and the personal security of our team,” he said.

The new conference rooms provide a space large enough for all the firm's 15 partners to meet at once – which they didn't have in their space at Summit Square, Pape said.

A large cafe overlooks Parkview Field. If the weather suits, people can watch action on the diamond from a balcony off the cafe. If not, a profusion of big-screen monitors on the walls of the cafe would make it an ideal spot for watching the NCAA basketball tournament.

Another unusual choice in the design and decor of the new office is the wide areas of visible concrete on both floors and walls.

The office isn't exactly a Silicon Valley startup's playroom, but the firm has worked to make it a place where talented young people would enjoy working. It has two showers for people who bike to work or exercise during the day. A large table in one room can be converted into a ping-pong table, and Pape says it's likely that a videogame feature may become the data displays available on the 12-15 large-screen monitors in the new office.

The overhaul is so complete that all furniture from the offices at Summit Square will be auctioned soon, Pape said. The only piece of furniture that was moved from the old office is a conference table more than 30 years old.

As much as a new look, Pape said, Carson Boxberger wants to cultivate a new way of working that suits the time and tempo better.

“We have some breakout work areas, so the idea is you can take your laptop, plop down on a couch and plow through your emails. That's actually work; that's 21st-century work. You're not tied and bound to a desk,” he said.