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One law firm decides to stay put, while another decides to move on. Perkins Coie‘s partnership voted last week to remain in its downtown Seattle headquarters for another 17 years, despite being wooed by the owners of several new or nearly finished buildings. Two thousand miles away in Cincinnati, Frost Brown Todd has chosen to move its main office to a new building in late 2011. Some 300 law firm workers will make the move into four floors of the new Great American Tower at Queen City Square. The firm had been in its old offices for 30 years. “Our lease is up at the end of 2011,” said Jill Meyer, member in charge of the Cincinnati office of Frost Brown Todd. “For a practical matter, that’s why we were reviewing the space and looking at out future needs.” The new building will be the tallest in the city when completed, Meyer said. The main benefit to moving is that the firm can design a space to specifically fit its needs. It will occupy more than 100,000 square feet on four floors, which is slightly less than the firm’s current space. The new location will be more efficient, she said. For instance, technology has eliminated the need for lots of filing space. “We’re trying for more openness and more collaborative spaces,” she said. “Young lawyers just don’t work the same way as they have in the past.” Commercial real estate experts have said that this difficult economy is a good time for businesses to renegotiate leases or move because landlords will cut deals to fill vacant space. Meyer declined to discuss the finances behind Frost Brown Todd’s new lease, but did say that it “wasn’t a sweetheart deal.” The firm won’t be going far — the Great American Tower is only a few blocks away from its current location. Employees can monitor its construction progress by looking out their windows. The dismal economy was a benefit to Perkins Coie. Managing Partner Robert Giles said that the firm began looking at its space options two years ago in anticipation of its lease ending in 2012. The availability of space in several recently completed but largely vacant office buildings helped create a very competitive environment among the landlords hoping to lure the firm, he said. “There’s no doubt that the economy had an impact,” Giles said. “So far, that’s the only silver lining I’ve found in this economy.” Instead of moving to a new building — which would allow the firm to design space to fit its needs — the firm will undertake a two-year renovation of its existing 280,000 square feet of office space. The firm has been located in what was formerly called Washington Mutual Tower since 1988, Giles said. The landlord is providing two extra floors of space on a temporary basis while the renovations are completed. “It’s going to be like moving into a brand new space,” Giles said.

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