The law firm Miller Johnson occupies 58,916 square feet on floors eight though 11 at Arena Place in downtown Grand Rapids. Courtesy Orion Construction
A local law firm is eagerly taking in the views from its new home atop the newly constructed Arena Place building.
Miller Johnson relocated this month from its Grand Rapids home of 35 years in the Calder Plaza building, at 250 Monroe Ave. NW, to 45 Ottawa Ave. SW.
The Arena Place building is an 11-story development featuring class A office space, 100 apartments, on-site parking, the soon-to-open Wheelhouse restaurant and retail space.
Miller Johnson is one of the building’s anchor tenants, residing on floors eight through 11.
Craig Mutch, managing member at Miller Johnson, said the new office space represents the strategic direction Miller Johnson decided to embrace back in 2012.
“Our clients and the practice of law have become more sophisticated, so it was time to reflect that in our offices,” Mutch said.
Mutch noted the pillars Miller Johnson has adopted that encompass the firm’s new vision: dare to be different; destination law firm; down to earth; and down to business.
He said the new office location and design reflect those pillars.
The firm incorporated contemporary design, including furniture by Steelcase and Nucraft, and “doubled down” on technology in creating the new space. It also focused on increased collaboration.
“This isn’t your grandfather’s law firm,” Mutch said.
All four floors emit plenty of natural light through large windows, and the 11th floor offers views of downtown Grand Rapids.
Kim Houtman, marketing and communications coordinator at Miller Johnson, said from this new perspective, Miller Johnson looks out over its clients rather than at its competitors.
The 11th floor houses Miller Johnson’s reception area and includes several conference rooms of varying sizes and configurations, which can be used for private client consultations, mediations, training, workshops and video conferencing.
The firm now has 18 conference rooms compared with 10 at its previous location.
The larger conference rooms are named after the Great Lakes, while the smaller conference rooms are named after smaller lakes in the region.
The 11th floor also features a large outdoor patio space that will be used for client events and by staff seeking to get some sunlight during the day.
One of the office’s unique features is an open staircase that spans floors eight through 10 and is situated next to the break area on each floor to encourage interaction among attorneys and staff.
There are also no more “corner offices” at Miller Johnson. Those spaces have been replaced with conference rooms and collaborative spaces.
Each attorney, regardless of whether they’re a partner, has the same size office, outfitted with the same furniture.
Attorneys can personalize their space, however, by taking advantage of the furniture’s flexibility.
Each office is equipped with a sitting desk and a desk that can be adjusted into a standing workstation.
The Founders Conference Room, located on the 11th floor, features modern video conferencing technology, which will allows Miller Johnson’s attorneys to meet face-to-face from anywhere and share documents in real time.
The room has two large television screens, microphones placed throughout the room to pick up sound from any seat and easily accessible outlets for plugging in any device.
Isidore Okoro, the firm’s director of IT, said while Miller Johnson had video conferencing capabilities before, the technology it has now is truly top-of-the-line and will change the experience for attorneys meeting with one another, as well as provide better flexibility for clients.
Okoro noted Miller Johnson can save clients time and money by meeting with them from wherever they’re utilizing the new technology options.
For instance, he said in family law cases, things can come up over night that are urgent for a client and a conversation over the phone isn’t always as reassuring as a face-to-face meeting with an attorney.
The firm also invested in updating its IT security to ensure client privacy is protected.
In making the move to its new space, Miller Johnson was able to reduce its footprint from 68,108 square feet to 58,916 square feet and set up for significant energy savings.
Mutch said when Miller Johnson adopted its new strategic plan, it wanted to create an office space that was welcoming to clients, attorneys, staff and anyone else who may visit its space.
“We are doing what we set out to do,” Mutch said. “We are proud so far.”
Miller Johnson also has an office in Kalamazoo.
The firm employs more than 170 attorneys and staff between its two locations.