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Reed Smith Crosby Heafey put the recently renovated 25th floor of its Oakland office on the market Monday, marking the third floor that the firm has abandoned since 2001. Subleasing the 25th floor means that “we have the option to move into it if we need it,” said Oakland Managing Partner Sonja Weissman. Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith and Oakland’s Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May merged on Jan. 1, forming a national firm with more than 900 lawyers. Before the merger, Crosby, Heafey had housed its Oakland headquarters on six floors of Lake Merritt Plaza at 1999 Harrison St. since 1985. Weissman recalls that when she joined the firm in 1991, the firm occupied the 21st through 26th floors and maintained a conference room on the 27th. When Crosby inked an 11-year, $50 million lease in 2001, it gave up the 26th and 27th floors and began renovating the 22nd through 25th floors. The construction included making a conference room space in the 24th floor library to replace the 27th floor gathering area. On Monday, the firm moved ahead with plans to sublease the 25th floor, Weissman said, joining other Bay Area and national firms grappling with overflow office space. Many firms bulked up on space in better economic times when they had more staff or heady expansion plans. Expensive excess office space played a role in the demise of San Francisco’s Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. More recently, partners at Cleveland’s Arter & Hadden said attorney departures and a space glut may drive the firm into bankruptcy or dissolution. While Reed Smith’s space situation isn’t as severe, Weissman said the firm has tried to make smarter use of its Oakland hub since the firm’s structure has changed over the years. There are 75 attorneys in the Oakland office; in 1991, there were 190 attorneys, the managing partner said. Also, statistics compiled by Recorder affiliate The American Lawyer magazine show that Crosby’s head count dipped from roughly 250 attorneys in 2001 to just over 200 in 2002 �� a year before its merger with Reed Smith. The Oakland office lost some lawyers after the firm opened a Los Angeles outpost in 1990 and a San Francisco office in 1997, because some Oakland attorneys went to those new outposts. “As we opened other offices, legacy Crosby Oaklanders have used that opportunity to relocate their offices,” Weissman explained. When the firm began renovations, it tried to make the Oakland space more efficient by putting more attorney offices on each floor, Weissman said. “It will be a more congenial atmosphere,” the managing partner said.

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