Five years ago, the principals of Thompson Wigdor & Gilly left the security of large-firm life and did what others do when hanging out a small-firm shingle: They sublet offices within someone else’s commercial space — in their case, a modest portion of the 57th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City.

But earlier this month the former Morgan, Lewis & Bockius associates — Kenneth P. Thompson, Douglas H. Wigdor and Scott B. Gilly — eased into loftlike digs occupying the entire fifth floor of a landmark building near Union Square, a commercial co-op deal that binds the trio to a site they purchased for “north of $5 million on the way to 10,” according to Thompson, not to mention nearly $2 million more for interior renovations.

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