Forced out of their pricey commercial office buildings for months and grappling with the sudden COVID-19 recession, law firms have been negotiating over their leases—or even winding up in litigation—in search of relief from real estate costs.

Firms are trying to work with their landlords, with varying degrees of success, according to several legal consultants. Real estate is the second-largest cost for law firms after personnel, and at a time when many firms are reducing both salaries and employee positions, it would be “managerial malpractice” not to look for a break, said Tom Clay, a principal at legal consultancy Altman Weil.

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