Tricks Of The Trade: FM In Legal Terms

By James C. Elledge, IFMA Fellow, CFM, FMA, RPA, RIAQM
Published in the March 2006 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Q I can’t seem to find the definition of a facilities manager in a law office. Where might I find this information?

Elizabeth A. Scanlon
White and Williams LLP
Philadelphia, PA

A Obviously, the duties and responsibilities of a legal facility manager vary greatly, depending on the size of the organization as well as its specific needs. Generally, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics publication, Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) 2006-07 Edition, provides a very basic definition of facility management in its explanation of an administrative services manager. According to the OOH:

“Administrative services managers who work as facility managers plan, design, and manage buildings and grounds in addition to people. This task requires integrating the principles of business administration, architecture, and behavioral and engineering science.

“Although the specific tasks assigned to facility managers vary substantially depending on the organization, the duties fall into several categories relating to operations and maintenance, real estate, project planning and management, communication, finance, quality assessment, facility function, technology integration, and management of human and environmental factors.

“Tasks within these broad categories may include space and workplace planning, budgeting, purchase and sale of real estate, lease management, renovations, or architectural planning and design. Facility managers may suggest and oversee renovation projects for a variety of reasons, ranging from improving efficiency to ensuring that facilities meet government regulations and environmental, health, and security standards. Additionally, facility managers continually monitor the facility to ensure that it remains safe, secure, and well maintained. Often, the facility manager is responsible for directing staff, including maintenance, grounds, and custodial workers.”

To get a better sense of facility management in a general corporate setting, you may want to review “Lean And Mean Space Planning” by Dana Dubbs.

For excellent facility management pointers specific to a legal setting, try to get your hands on “Banker And Tradesman: Managing Law Firm Requires Cutting Edge Juggling Act” by Norma M. Gwin. Gwin was a facility manager for the Boston, MA-based law firm of Nutter, McCennen & Fish and was also the secretary of the Boston chapter of the International Facilities Management Association. Although this article dates back to 2001, the points it covers are still topical.

Elledge,facility/office services manager for Dallas, TX-based Summit AllianceCompanies, is the recipient of the Distinguished Author Award from theInternational Facility Management Association (IFMA), is an IFMA Fellow, and isa member of TFM’sEditorial Advisory Board. All questions have been submitted via the “Ask TheExpert” portion of the magazine’s Web site. To pose a question, visit this link.