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Short trip, big move for Bose: Intense planning smooths law firm's HQ transition

September 22, 2008

Looking east from the 27th floor of Chase Tower, lawyers at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP can clearly see their former offices at M&I Plaza.

But the short distance didn't make the firm's traipse across Pennsylvania Street to its new home any easier. Just ask Vicki L. Bruce, the firm's chief operations officer, who coordinated the cumbersome move that concluded Labor Day weekend.

"You still have to load up a truck," she said, "and it has to be staged properly."

Indeed, relocating the city's fifth-largest law practice, with 126 attorneys and 250 total employees in the downtown office alone, is no easy task, no matter the distance. Everything from scheduling furniture deliveries to switching out the phone and computer systems to stocking the vending machines had to be considered.

The move may have been completed in a matter of weeks, but behind-the-scenes planning took several months. Leaving no detail unattended to enabled attorneys and support staff to arrive at their desks following the three-day respite without so much as missing a billable hour.

Bose McKinney had been at M&I Plaza since 1988 and was an original tenant of the building that bore the name of the former First Indiana Bank. The firm began considering a move a few years ago and ultimately whittled its options down to staying put or jumping to Chase Tower.

It now occupies 112,000 square feet on seven floors, five of which are fully filled. The space was used by Guidant Corp. before its sale and the former Sommer Barnard PC law firm prior to its move to One Indiana Square.

M&I Plaza could have accommodated Bose McKinney's request for roughly 25,000 extra square feet of space. But the firm couldn't come to terms with the building's former owners, New York-based Crown Properties and Greenfield Partners of Connecticut. Besides, Chase Tower's amenities made moving more attractive, firm partner R.J. McConnell reasoned.

"This is a step up," he said. "It's in keeping with our strategy of continuing to be a first-class law firm serving Indiana businesses."

Bruce convened a team of planners that included Chief Information Officer Jon Miller and Facilities Coordinator Cheryl Highsmith. She also hired local moving planner Relocation Strategies Inc. to orchestrate the entire process.

Other than pulling off a monumental move without a hitch, Bruce aimed to come in under the $200,000 budget. She's still collecting bills but hopes to achieve the goal.

Monthly planning meetings soon gave way to weekly gatherings. Bruce's advice to any company contemplating a move is to start planning as soon as possible, leave nothing to chance, and choose the right coworkers to help.

Lawyers got organized, closed files and segregated those they needed for current caseloads. Movers began by carting off furnishings, files and other belongings July 31. Reusable plastic boxes and rented folding tables became the office décor of choice.

The August move kept Dave Gregg, commercial services manager of Hogan Transfer & Storage Corp.-Mayflower Agency, quite busy.

"It's rare in our business that you have a move that goes an entire month, every day-and Monday through Friday was day and night," he said.

An inordinate number of files and office furniture made the trek more challenging. The firm kept much of the furnishings but scrapped 20-year-old administrative work stations that didn't conform to the new design. REI Construction LLC in Carmel built out the new space, and locally based Schott Design Inc. served as interior designer.

Schott's deadline to complete work was not as tight as others the company has met, said President Jenny Schott Androne, crediting organizers for keeping on schedule.

Bruce and fellow helpers gave up their three-day weekend, working from about 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day to ensure a smooth transition.

Having only one freight elevator at each building prevented the move from progressing any quicker. Many attorneys came in over the holiday to provide a helping hand.

"Whether you did or didn't, on Tuesday you had a telephone, a working computer and your files," McConnell said. "It was very well organized."

The firm opted to avoid throwing anything left behind in the trash bin in favor of donating items or giving them back to vendors for potential resell. A few pieces even found new homes at other firm locations.

Conference rooms are equipped with new furniture and the latest in audio and video teleconferencing technology. The remotely operated equipment features several speaker systems built into tables and ceilings, and wireless LCD screens hidden within the walls. The Monument Circle Room is the largest and most technologically elaborate. A video camera records presentations to stream via the Internet.

In addition, digital room scheduling allows attorneys to book appointments and view calendars without leaving their desks.

Continuing a firm tradition, the 12 conference rooms are named after downtown streets. What's new, though, are the professional photographs of sites from each street that adorn the walls.
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