Law Sector in London – One Year On

In autumn 2018, Metropolis published a blog on the demand for office space by the law sector in the UK. This piece updates that analysis with a look at current trends.

Large law firm requirements have long been one of the mainstays of the City of London and Midtown office markets, accounting for up to 10% of take up in some years.

Some of the largest moves announced in 2019 included:  Cooley pre-letting 70,000 sq ft at 22 Bishopsgate; Kingsley Napley preletting 51,000 sq ft in Bonhill Street, EC2; Shoosmiths pre-letting 40,000 sq ft at One Bow Churchyard; Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft pre-letting 22,000 sq ft at 100 Bishopsgate, BDB Pitmans taking 38,000 sq ft at 1 Bartholomew Close, EC1;

Research suggests over 2m sq ft could be transacted to law firms in 2020. Searches include: Reynolds Porter Chamberlain looking for 50,000 sq ft in the City of London; Leigh Day & Co looking for 25,000 sq ft in Midtown; Baker Botts, Travers Smith and Fried Frank looking for 30,000 sq ft in the City of London; Covington & Burling is looking for 70,000 sq ft in Midtown; Charles Russell Speechlys looking for 150,000 sq ft in Midtown. More legal sector requirements are emerging every month in London.

As well as quantity, the design of the new offices taken by law firms is interesting. Law firms tend towards a mixture of open plan and cellular offices, with the amount seeing some open plan now over 50%. It is not a style that works for all law firms. More junior staff favour open plan, with senior staff requiring cellular for confidentiality. Advances in technology have supported flexible working by allowing lawyers to move around more freely with portable devices – many now use Bluetooth headsets so they can go to a meeting room for noisy or confidential calls. The design of workspace in law firm offices continues to evolve.

There are 60 medium/large London law firms with lease expiries approaching over the next two years.

Metropolis is tracking over 100 law firms with either identified requirements or potential requirements for relocation from October 2019 onwards.

 

Paul Ives Metropolis and Apollo Business Research

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