ROSEVILLE, CA—Law firms may bristle at the idea of being compared to chain restaurants or multi-location retailers, but restructuring expert Jim Haslem thinks the legal profession can draw a number of lessons—and operating principles in terms of their office space. “There are differences,” Haslem, a principal with Huntley, Mullaney, Spargo & Sullivan here, tells “But law firms are selling services at retail, so the discipline and the systems that multi-unit restaurants and retailers routinely use are also applicable to law firms.” That being said, he adds, “I’ve seen that law firms are less disciplined in terms of how they manage their multiple locations.”

That less-disciplined approach may extend to where and when to open multiple locations, says Haslem. “When things are good, law firms are inclined to open an office in, say, Phoenix, and you wonder what were the metrics in supporting that decision, what were the metrics in negotiating the lease,” he says. Just as important, he adds, are “the metrics you used in determining the efficiency of that office, and whether the lease should be renewed, renegotiated or allowed to lapse and have the firm relocate or engage the landlord in negotiation leading to termination of the lease.”

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