Doug Domenick – Chapman and Cutler LLP
There are obvious reasons why Chicago-based law firm Chapman and Cutler would move from its more-than-a-century-old office to a new location.
But according to Doug Domenick, the firm’s chief facilities management and workplace strategies officer, the move was also made with some not-so-obvious intentions.
“The nature of work has changed,” he says. “Our new office space is more efficient, healthier and designed to accommodate an agile workforce. The well-being of our people and our visitors were important factors built into the design.”
Chapman chose a building that allowed the firm to design a space with a state-of-the-art air filtration system, maximize access to natural light and provide touchless features including automatic door openers. The physical layout of the workspaces was done with sustainability and wellness in mind, Domenick says.
A new space
Modern offices were built with the idea that every employee is on site on a given day, but that was never really true in law firms, Domenick says.
“Over time it became clear that remote work was a stronger possibility for a larger group of employees than we anticipated,” he says.
Looking at the firm’s historic data and adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed Chapman and Cutler to give attorneys and staff more flexibility on how and where they work. And overall, the office move reduced Chapman’s Chicago footprint by over 40 percent.
“Coupled with requiring less people to commute to the office, we’re using less electricity and water and have less waste output,” Domenick says. “That alone makes this is a more sustainable operation.”
Energy-efficient windows and new heating and cooling systems, which are yielding a significant carbon footprint reduction, are making the office more sustainable, too. Chapman is purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset the remainder of the office’s projected energy usage.
Individual workspace amenities include dual computer monitors and height-adjustable work surfaces that can accommodate a person who is 5-foot-6 as easily as someone who is 6-foot-5, Domenick says. It was important that the workspaces fit people rather than have people try to fit into the workspace, he says.
An under-the-radar improvement is the installation of reheat coils within the HVAC system.
“The reheat coils and carefully planned HVAC zones help us be more responsive to the comfort of our diverse workforce,” Domenick says.
The new office, which has more glass and natural light, supports green walls throughout the space and even the interior offices have skyline views. That feature was motivated by internal employee and attorney satisfaction surveys, Domenick says. Other modern amenities include a cafe offering healthy grab-and-go food options and an on-staff barista making specialty coffee and other beverages.
A different career in law
Domenick earned a degree in history and philosophy from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, but couldn’t find a job in those fields after graduation. So, he started working for a furniture company, then a small general contractor.
At the time, he was studying for the LSAT but stopped because he liked the work. Eventually, he found a way to combine his interests. He got his first law firm job with Schiff Hardin LLP (now ArentFox Schiff) and worked there for 20 years as the office properties and spaces manager.
Domenick came to Chapman and Cutler in 2017. He says the law firm is a hub for a hybrid in-person and virtual working environment that facilitates the kind of collaboration that defines the firm’s approach to client service.
“This is an inviting space that matches the culture of the firm itself, supporting interaction with our colleagues and our clients in meaningful, sustainable and healthful ways,” Domenick says. “It is also enhancing our ability to continue to attract and retain talented attorneys and support professionals in the future.”
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