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The probability of communication among lawyers declines rapidly as their offices are farther apart

Knowledge sharing, it turns out, depends crucially on proximity. Research described in Cal. Mgt. Rev., Vol. 49, Winter 2007 at 25-27, which studied interactions between engineers and scientists in terms of the distance of their workstations from each other, found that the separation distance dramatically affects the probability of weekly communication. The conclusion, confirmed in other studies and across several countries, is that “communication probability declines to an asymptotic level within the first 50 meters of separation.”

In other words, the farther lawyers’s officers are from each other, even just a few feet, the less they communicate with each other. Once lawyers are more than about 150 feet apart, their interactions and sharing of knowledge has declined precipitously but falls no more.

Moreover, evidence from studies indicates that “vertical separation always has a more severe effect than an equivalent amount of horizontal separation” (at 33). It’s bad enough to have you lawyers scattered at a distance, but to place them on different floors of a building really dooms their communication (See my post of July 31, 2005 on the general counsel having a remote office.).

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