Buckley Beal 2018 Holiday party in their new space at 600 Peachtree St. N.E. (Photo: James E. Morton Jr. Photography)
The reception area at Buckley Beal's new office.
Another conference room view.
A conference room looking toward the reception area.
The dessert table at Buckley Beal's Dec. 6 holiday party.

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Michael Gates (left) and Drew Beal.
Gloria Neal (from left), Ed Buckley and a guest.
Allegra Lawrence Hardy (left) and Richard Robbins.
Nicholas Smith (left) and Michael Moebes.
Justin Scott (from left), Jonathan Benjamin, Rachel Berlin Benjamin and David Hughes.

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Buckley Beal threw a holiday party last week to show off its new digs at the Bank of America Plaza to clients, judges and other guests.

The boutique, which handles plaintiffs employment and business litigation and mediation, used the move to update its office with a more efficient configuration, collaborative areas and lots more glass to let light into the interior.

Buckley Beal took a half-floor (11,500 square feet) on the 39th floor of the Bank of America building to accommodate its 25 lawyers and staff, which includes 11 attorneys. Hunton Andrews Kurth, still located in the building, had formerly occupied the floor.

When Drew Beal combined his business litigation firm with his old friend Ed Buckley’s plaintiff’s employment firm three years ago, it was an easy move. Both were in the Promenade building further north in Midtown, so Beal sublet his space and his lawyers and staff moved in with Buckley’s on the ninth floor.

But they quickly outgrew the space, Beal said. The move adds about 3,000 square feet—and offered a chance to modernize.

The Redesign

The space was already in good shape from Hunton’s tenure, Beal said, so the buildout took only about three months. Ashley Riordan and Jennifer Strickland at WB Interiors worked with them on the redesign.

They left a lot of the Hunton conference rooms intact, Beal said, because the previous occupant “used very modern wood paneling that we loved and didn’t want to destroy or waste.”

Hunton had also installed a kitchen with a pass-through counter that linked to one of the conference rooms, which Beal said has been a nice feature.

“A lot of our staff—especially the younger ones—suggested we put a bartender in there for evening use,” Beal added, as a perk for those working late. “We’ve resisted that suggestion so far.”

They kept the Hunton lawyer offices on the perimeter walls, which are slightly larger for partners than associates, because gutting and rebuilding would have added a big expense, but rebuilt the interior space, adding glass walls to make it “brighter and more inviting,” Beal said, and created collaborative work spaces they didn’t have in their old office.

They also configured the lawyer offices by practice groups, with the three conference rooms along one end.

The conference rooms in the old space “broke up the flow of lawyer offices,” Beal explained. “You don’t think you need that kind of concentration of offices, but you realize what you’ve been missing when you’re in more efficient, collaborative space.

The firm—particularly partner Nick Smith—is handling a lot of meditations on the premises, so the three conference rooms get used, Beal said.

They’ve also converted an unused partner office into a lounge to host guests who just want to talk. “Sometimes the formality of a conference room does not lend itself to that,” he explained.

Musical Chairs

Buckley Beal’s move created a bit of a law firm musical chairs game. Their office at Bank of America Plaza, which is right at the border of Midtown and downtown at 600 Peachtree St., N.E., was previously occupied by Hunton Andrews Kurth, which is still in the building but gave up a floor. Meanwhile, Kazmarek Mowrey Cloud Laseter moved into Buckley Beal’s old offices at Promenade from space the environmental law boutique had been subletting from Smith Gambrell & Russell.

Beal said Shorenstein Properties, which owns Bank of America Plaza, “had some availability and were aggressive on rates and the tenant improvement allowance.”

“Since the construction industry is at a high-water mark for charges, it was nice to have that additional TI allowance. It allowed us to do a lot of things with the space,” he added.

Bank of America Plaza was 63 percent leased at the end of September, according to real estate brokerage JLL’s third-quarter report, recently adding Buckley Beal and several tech companies. Buckley Beal, which has signed a lease for just under eight years, moved in in mid-August.

Shorenstein completed a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, including a new food hall, after buying the 55-story building–Atlanta’s tallest–out of foreclosure in 2016.

Hunton and Troutman Sanders are the Midtown skyscraper’s largest law firm tenants, where Troutman completed a major restack earlier this year, moving into nine floors lower in the 55-story building.

Beal declined to specify rent per square foot or the tenant improvement allowance. While rent for Class A space in urban submarkets has increased on average 23 percent in the last three years—inching north of $35 a square foot in Midtown—so have tenant improvement allowances, averaging a generous $65 per square foot, according to the latest reports from JLL, Colliers International and Savills Studley.