“With law firms getting busier, we are seeing more expansion activity in the market,” said Chris Butler, a managing director of Franklin Street’s Office and Industrial Services division.
Butler said many of the tenants he represents are now adding new employees to their firms and need a place to put them. Some are relocating to accommodate growth, and others are finding it more advantageous to take additional space in their existing buildings. “For example, Shutts & Bowen is taking on more space at their current Westshore office by expanding onto another contiguous floor,” Butler said.
“A lot of the larger, corporate firms like to be in prime locations, especially the CBD areas or Westshore. Even more recently, Hill Ward Henderson relocated their suburban Clearwater office into downtown Clearwater,” Butler said.
Butler said law firms still have a need for varying conference areas centered around the reception area for client meetings, but the nature of the overall size and configuration continues to change.
“We’re also seeing an increasing demand now for one- or two-size offices,” Butler said. “So whether you are a senior partner or a first-year associate, everyone gets a similar size office.”
Butler said this strategy allows law firms to maximize the efficiency of their footprint. He also noted that some law firms are now using collaboration areas for internal meetings, paring down the need for smaller conference rooms.
“Today’s break rooms are pretty comfortable with plenty of cushioned seating and a variety of coffee and refreshment offerings,” he said. “They can provide a stimulating environment, especially for younger attorneys who may prefer to collaborate in a more casual setting.”
Recently, Butler and his team represented the law firm Trenam Kemker, which renewed its lease at the Bank of American building in downtown Tampa. As part of its renewal, the firm reconfigured its space to be more efficient, Butler noted.
“With a tightening office market, large blocks of space are limited and prices are going up. That’s why many firms are opting to stay where they are and reconfigure existing office space for a more efficient use of the current square footage.”
Another example Butler mentioned is Ansa Assuncao LLP, a Philadelphia-based litigation shop with a Tampa presence. In renewing its lease at 100 South Ashley Drive, the firm gave up square footage it no longer needed.
“The firm decided to right-size by giving back space to the landlord it no longer needed,” Butler said. “Even though the firm is busier than ever, their renewal created an opportunity to make more efficient use of smaller space.”
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