“Countless studies show that proper lighting and acoustic levels play a key role in increasing workplace productivity.” The point is made in an article in Law Practice, Nov./Dec. 2009 at 39 by experts at PDR Corp, that it is better to “reduce your overall ambient light levels and incorporate task lighting controlled by dimmers and motion sensors.” “Task lighting” is jargon but the notion makes sense (See my post of Sept. 22, 2009: more on lighting and energy.).
The item also mentions that offices with plenum spaces above the ceiling allow noise to spread from office to office. “Add acoustical padding or pony walls to close gaps in your plenum space to create a quieter and ultimately more productive setting.”
A legal department might be able to invest in lighting systems and in sound dampening architecture. If it could, the productivity of its lawyers and others might rebound.