Duane Morris is moving its downtown Miami office from the Southeast Financial Center to a smaller space at the nearby Citigroup Center, a relocation that reflects a national trend toward smaller law firm workspaces.
Duane Morris is moving in September when its long-term, $16.8 million lease of the 34th floor penthouse begins at 201 S. Biscayne Blvd., offering views of Biscayne Bay, Bayfront Park and downtown Miami.
The new 23,128-square-foot space is smaller than its current 28,000-square-foot office on the 34th and part of the 35th floor at the Southeast building, where the lease is expiring. The new lease breaks down to $726 per square foot over an undisclosed time frame.
The shrinkage and other design changes are consistent with research showing law firms are taking a hard look at their real estate and are redesigning their workspaces nationally.
One of the most notable trends is smaller workspaces. About 40 percent of the big law firm leases decreased total square footage in major U.S. markets from the first quarter 2016 to the second quarter 2017, according to a Legal Sectors Trends study by CBRE Inc. This has created about 2 million square feet of shadow space in the 26 markets studied.
In South Florida, law firms have decreased the space per attorney to a range of 550 to 700 square feet, down from 800 to 1,000 square feet per attorney in the past five years, according to a regional study released in March.
For its part, Duane Morris is reducing its square footage by decreasing the office size for its partners and increasing the size for associates, meaning all lawyers regardless of seniority will have the same-sized office, said Harvey Gurland Jr., managing partner of the Miami and Boca Raton offices.
The decision reflects a general move toward smaller offices across different industries as well as the Duane Morris culture, Gurland added.
“The way we interact with each other, (it’s) partners and associates working together and collaborating on projects. We have a lot less of the, ‘Well, this is mine, and I want to be able to show everyone how important I am.’ Everyone is important. All of our lawyers are very important to us,” he said.
The change also reflects another change where meetings are less likely to be held in a partner’s office and more likely to be in a conference room, Gurland said.
“There’s a recognition that the way our business has changed is that we make much more use of conference rooms, which in the past we really weren’t using and now we are using more conference rooms,” he said.
Other law firm tenants at the Citigroup Center include Shook, Hardy & Bacon and Kluger Kaplan.
This is at least the second Miami law firm to shift to same-sized offices.
Akerman moved its Miami office from the SunTrust International Center to Three Brickell City Centre, where all attorneys have a 170-square-foot office, former chairman Andrew Smulian has said.
This egalitarian office size appeals to young attorneys, office managing partner Neisen Kasdin has said.
Duane Morris is implementing other changes at its new office that reflect CBRE’s findings. At the same time, however, the law firm is keeping some things the same and inconsistent with the CBRE report.
Contrary to research showing law firms are shrinking their support, Duane Morris is keeping all 25 paralegals, legal assistants and other support employees.
Also, there will be 34 Duane Morris attorneys in its new office, 33 currently working for the firm and a new hire, Gurland said. The new office allows for growth to 42 lawyers.
Consistent with CBRE findings, Duane Morris is putting more emphasis on office technology. That’s mainly the ability for live video communications with attorneys or clients.
Aside from variously sized conference rooms, it will have one informal collaboration room.
“It’s just an easy place where you can have eight people in a room, attorney or clients, having video and other communications with others who are in a remote location,” Gurland said.
Citigroup Center is an 809,594-square-foot office tower that last year underwent a $20 million renovation.
Tower Commercial Real Estate LLC founder and president Jon Blunk, director Cristina Glaria and executive director Laurel Oswald represented Citigroup Center owner Crocker Partners LLC, a Boca Raton-based real estate investment firm, on the lease.
New York-based Savills Studley LLC corporate managing director Timothy Prunka represented Duane Morris.
Duane Morris also is moving its 15-attorney Boca Raton office, heading to the Lynn Financial Center at 1875 NW Corporate Blvd. from 5100 Town Center Circle. The rent and length of that lease weren’t disclosed.
The law firm ranks 73rd on the Am Law 100 list with $466 million in 2017 revenue.
The CBRE report listed South Florida as the third biggest legal services market nationally with the fourth fastest-growing lawyer population over the past five years. More than 20,000 lawyers practiced in the region in 2016.