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01/15/14

Real Estate Woes of Law Firms to Continue in 2015



The recent annual report from Jones Lang LaSalle, named Law Firm Perspective, highlights on the real estate woes of law firms which have gone up and the balance is soon tipping in favor of the landlords of law firm offices. The report further points out that in most states in the US, concessions and rent breaks are almost gone, though a few cities still continue with the concessions. Rent has increased on an average of 2.1 percent across the overall 41 "law firm markets," and it has increased by 14 percent compared to 2009. This has already resulted in 15.2 percent of law firm relocations ending in downsizing. Though in many cases, the reason ostensibly has been to move to premises that utilize space better.

Despite law firm lease negotiations favoring landlords in almost half of the U.S. legal markets, this is for the first time in seven years that the competition for law firm space has been increasing and the legal sector nationwide is collectively leasing more space than ever. This means that there is no sign of the demand for law firm office space to go down any time soon, even when the landlords of law firm offices are definitely on a better footing. The shift in law firm office space is now from a buyer's to a seller's market.

The report opens up with the caption that says, "Winds of change gusting through the U.S. law firm office landscape," further observing, "As challenges for law firms persist across the business environment, they have also arisen across the real estate market. After nearly seven years of enhanced leverage, firms encounter markets with shrinking quality options, resulting in landlord confidence jumping, fueling heightened rents and diminished incentives, a trend forecasted to continue into 2014 and 2015."

The findings show that in Trophy and Class A options for office space, the shortage is the greatest though blocks of all spaces and of all sizes, have shrunk from 12 months ago:
  • Available office space blocks above 200,000 s.f. have shrunk by 16.2 percent

  • Available office space blocks ranging from 100,000 to 199,999 s.f. have shrunk by 1.7 percent

  • Available office space blocks ranging from 50,000 to 99,999 s.f. have shrunk by 7.4 percent

  • Available office space blocks ranging from 25,000 to 49,999 s.f. have shrunk by 16.5 percent
According to Jones Lang LaSalle, though the market leverage will decrease, real estate opportunities will remain for law firms. Additional new developments are expected, as are the second-generational backfill options coming online over the next two years. The report finds that firms can win the game of office space if they opt for modern layouts and enhanced efficiency measures that can shrink real estate occupancy by more than 15 percent, thus creating the opportunity to cap cost structures in a challenging business climate.

Summary:

According to a recent annual report from Jones Lang LaSalle titled ‘Law Firm Perspective,’ it focuses on the real estate woes of law firms to continue till 2015. Though the market leverage will decrease, real estate opportunities will remain for law firms. Despite landlords of law firm office space being on a better footing, there are no signs of the demand for law firm office space to go down any time soon.

Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated

    


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