Baker McKenzie has announced it will move the entire Hong Kong office away from Central, the island’s expensive business and financial district, to the area called Quarry Bay.
The firm has confirmed it will take five floors or 100,000-square-foot space in One Taikoo Place, a 48-story office tower set to be completed in 2018. After the move, which will take place in early 2019, Baker McKenzie will see for the first time in a decade its entire Hong Kong operations based in a single location.
Baker McKenzie will be the first major U.S. firm to relocate to Quarry Bay on the east side of Hong Kong Island. Several U.K. firms, including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, already made the move to the same district.
Law firms are leaving Central for less expensive rents and bigger and better quality office space as The Asian Lawyer reported last month. As demand from mainland China remains strong, Central, where the highest per square foot rent can push $300 per year, has become the most expensive place to rent an office in the world.
Both One Taikoo Place and Freshfields’ new office building, One Island East, are part of Taikoo Place, a mix-use commercial, residential and office complex in Quarry Bay. According to reports by local press, monthly per square foot rent for One Taikoo Place is estimated to be between HK$55 and HK$65 ($7.04-$8.32).
Most U.S. firms remain in Central, with the exception of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, which has, since 2014, been based in Hysan Place in Causeway Bay, a commercial district in between Central and Quarry Bay.
The majority of Baker McKenzie Hong Kong is currently based in Hutchison House, where the firm occupies four and a half floors with roughly 95,000 square feet in space. The firm also operates a 15,000-square-foot back office in the Admiralty Centre several blocks away.
Hutchison House is a decades-old building on the eastern edge of Central, whereas Admiralty Centre is located in Admiralty, one subway stop east of Central. The Hutchison House office underwent a major expansion and renovation a few years ago when a team previously based in One Pacific Place moved in.
“We have considered a number of locations, but One Taikoo Place stood out as the best environment for our people and our business,” said Milton Cheng, managing partner of Baker McKenzie’s Hong Kong office.
“Having all of our people in one location will further enhance the strong synergy we already have among the different practices and business functions within the office, and enable us to continue to deliver exceptional service to our clients.”
Baker McKenzie has also engaged real estate services firm CBRE to conduct a survey among its 575 team members in Hong Kong to find out how they want to work in the future.
“Our people are our most important asset. We strongly believe a friendly, modern and collaborative work environment can help inspire everyone to be more efficient and passionate in their work,” Cheng said.