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Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich will take over 120,000 square feet of East Palo Alto space that has been abandoned by the now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. Gray Cary announced Friday that it will move some 150 lawyers currently scattered in three buildings in Palo Alto to the palatial new offices at the University Circle office complex. The firm inked a 15-year deal for space on five floors and plans to move July 1. The firm also arranged to have its name put on the side of the building facing Highway 101. J. Terence O’Malley, Gray Cary’s chairman, said he had looked at the space while it was still under construction but worried that real estate prices were too high. “The combination of the downturn in the real estate market and the unique circumstances surrounding the former tenant created a situation that was too good to pass up,” O’Malley said. He declined to say what the firm is paying in rent, but said Gray Cary’s overall operating costs would be reduced by the move. The firm’s 20-year lease for two Hamilton Avenue buildings in downtown Palo Alto expires next year. The firm also holds another 50,000 square feet of space on Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto, and O’Malley said the firm is currently mulling whether to sublease it or continue to house some litigators there. Gray Cary joins two other law firms at the University Circle complex, which will include a Four Seasons Hotel, said Steve Meckfessel, one of the complex owners. Bingham McCutchen has offices at University Circle, and work is under way on space for Dewey Ballantine. One Silicon Valley real estate broker said the space had been shopped out at $36 to $48 per square foot per year. Brobeck originally leased out the space for $56 per square foot, according to lease documents filed in a lawsuit between the building’s owner and the defunct law firm. Documents in the San Mateo County suit, University Circle Investors v. Brobeck, 429321, also paint a picture of the stylish furnishings that come with the space. Brobeck had signed over to the building’s owner some $4.7 million in furnishings toward the balance of the firm’s 12-year lease. The inventory lists modern Martin Brattrud sofas, some of which fetch nearly $2,000 a pop, similarly styled armchairs that go for as much as $833, and $21,000 in custom mill work in the offices once earmarked for former Brobeck partners Curtis Mo and Warren Lazarow. For the most part, Gray Cary’s lawyers are ecstatic about the move although it may pose a somewhat painful sense of deja vu for one new hire — Luther Kent Orton, who worked in the building while he was a Brobeck partner. Dewey partner James Elacqua also will be no stranger to the complex, having worked there while he was a Brobeck partner. The space is a far cry from the modest Hamilton Avenue digs that Gray Cary has occupied for nearly 20 years, said partner Gregory Gallo. “Like anything that’s 20 years old, it’s not quite as nice as the beautiful new space,” Gallo said. Gallo added that he’s been advocating for a move closer to the freeway to make visits more convenient for clients.

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