Law firms are on the move in search of greener pastures. Shades of green range from trendier neighborhoods, closer proximity to amenities, new development, and greenest of all: reduced real estate expenses. While the increased desire to relocate has not translated into a surge in leasing activity, the number of relocations has outpaced renewals in four of the last five quarters. (For the purpose of this report, we are focusing on significant lease transactions, qualified by a minimum threshold of 10,000 square feet).
Nationally, law firm leasing activity during the first quarter of the year was nearly equal to the total during the same period last year. There were 68 transactions totaling 2.5 million square feet (msf) leased during the first three months of this year – only two less transactions (70) totaling slightly less square footage (2.3 msf) signed during the first quarter of last year. While seven of the largest 10 leases signed this quarter were renewals, there were actually two more relocations than renewal transactions signed nationally. While it may seem balanced, traditionally law firm renewals have dwarfed relocations on a square footage basis. In the current quarter, the number of relocation leases signed larger than 20,000 sf in the 10 US cities* outweighs renewals by 63.4%.