Once upon a time, law firms that operated in New York housed their companies in downtown Manhattan, near to the financial center, which was instrumental in the creation of the great majority of their business. Such law firms began to move away from Manhattan in order to set up business in midtown during the 1980s. Firms began renting beautiful offices in new buildings located on Third Avenues and Lexington, or offices situated in the West 40s and 50s. Anyone who walks down the Avenue of the Americas these days gets a tour of AmLaw 100.
Laura Kusisto from the Wall Street Journal, however, says that the trend toward relocation to midtown may now be changing, with law firms attempting to save as much money as they possibly can. One method of doing so is to cut back on office leases. Law firms are now looking at downtown office spaces as well further west in the city.
“Law firms don’t like to pay too much for office space because even junior associates expect offices, and because rent money comes out of the partners’ pockets,” said Kusisto. “Now other large firms are looking downtown … for cheaper rents and the benefits of being in new construction.”
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP moved its offices downtown last month to 7 World Trade Center after having spent 13 years in midtown. Other firms that have new leases include Proskauer Rose LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP.