Law sector expanding outside London

A recent report by property consultant CBRE analyses trends in the legal sector of the office market outside London.

The main points of the survey are:

82% of law firms are seeing increase in fee income (70% in 2014) and 10% of regional office take-up in the last 3 years can be attributed to law firms;

The pressure of competition within the legal sector by new firms such as Riverview Law, Axiom, Obelisk and Keystone Law is leading many firms to review their property occupation, especially in the UK regions;

Recent new office openings have included Latham & Watkins and Freshfields in Manchester, Hogan Lovells in Birmingham, Belfast has attracted Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith, Eversheds and Baker & McKenzie. Legal services firm Axiom has also announced plans to double its Belfast workforce;

Bristol firms occupy the most total legal office space, Manchester has the widest representation of firms in the Top 100; Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester all have over 750,000 sq ft of office space occupied by law firms.

Recently, Manchester and Leeds have seen notably strong letting activity. Manchester saw a 100,000 sq ft deal to Slater and Gordon and 45,000 sq ft for DLA Piper. In Leeds 51,500 sq ft was taken by Addleshaw Goddard, 33,000 sq ft by Squire Patton Boggs and 24,800 sq ft by DAC Beachcroft;

Generally firms in Glasgow and Edinburgh are occupying space at a higher density than counterparts in other UK cities;

‘Nearshoring’ of back office functions from London has led to new regional offices for Trowers & Hamlins, Clyde & Co with Edinburgh based Simpson & Marwick and Slater & Gordon with Chester based Walker Smith Way;

Law firms summarise their ideal space as space which is ‘high tech, high spec, high density’. The survey concludes that law firms are seeking more ‘light, bright, technologically enabled, open plan, collaborative and modern workspace’. Law firms are developing an approach to real estate which aligns it with technology and their approach to workplace design;

Metropolis is currently monitoring 40 law firm office identified requirements outside London, with a further 40 at an earlier stage.

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