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Mintz Shrinks New York Partner Offices to Same Size as Novices

May 13, 2022, 9:30 AM

Mintz Levin is shrinking partner offices in its new New York space to the same size as first-year associates, showing how Big Law is experimenting with configurations after Covid-19 upset work rituals.

The new 101,000-square-foot space, located on Third Avenue next to the 138-year-old P.J. Clarke’s saloon, is larger than the 85,000 square feet Mintz now occupies in Manhattan. But when the firm’s lawyers move there later this year they’ll find offices of about 150 square feet regardless of their rank and experience.

“We’re designing the space so that offices are one size, and they’re compact,” Bob Bodian, the firm’s managing partner, said in an interview. “My office will be the same size as a first-year associate’s office.”

Mintz is among several firms rethinking offices after the pandemic popularized working from home. Some, like Philadelphia-founded Duane Morris, are looking to cash in by slashing their real estate footprint as leases expire.

Duane Morris also decided partners didn’t need “big, huge” offices, and none pushed back on the idea, that firm’s chief executive officer, Matthew Taylor, said in an interview last month. “I have not had one partner complain about the size of their office is smaller,” he said.

Mintz is asking its lawyers to be in the office at least three days per week, like several of its Big Law competitors. But it hasn’t been keeping close tabs on who’s showing up, Bodian said.

“We’re not taking attendance and we’re not punching clocks,” he said. “The one thing I don’t want to have is to create a police state here and tell highly skilled professionals what they have to do.”

Manhattan law firms are seeing about 46% daily attendance, according to a survey by Partnership for New York City.

Bodian expects the flexible approach is here to stay.

“I don’t think it’s ever going be a five days a week in the office situation for those who don’t want it to be,” Bodian said. “I don’t see us sending out the search party if you’re not in the office on a Friday.”

Higher Profits

Mintz, which Bodian has helmed since 2009, reported more than $588 million in gross revenue and saw profits per partner cross the $2 million threshold for the first time last year, according to data compiled by the American Lawyer.

Its clients have included Goldman Sachs, Apollo Management LP, Wynn Resorts and OPKO Health Inc.

The building Mintz is moving to is also home to law firms Debevoise & Plimpton and Schulte Roth & Zabel. Schulte filed a $10 million lawsuit against landlord Metropolitan 919 3rd Avenue LLC in 2020 for refusing to cut the firm’s rent during the pandemic, a court battle that’s ongoing.

The smaller offices will give Mintz room for growth by accommodating up to 170 attorneys, Bodian said. The firm’s New York headcount jumped by more than a quarter to 135 lawyers over the last two years.

“We’re hoping we’ll need more space,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com