The Washington Monument. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Miles & Stockbridge announced it has signed a lease on a new office in Washington, D.C., as the firm’s leadership said it hopes to roughly double its total lawyer head count in the nation’s capital.

“We think we’ve got a pretty good business case for laterals in D.C., and we were frankly out of space where we were,” said Joe Hovermill, Miles & Stockbridge president and CEO. “So it was either stay stagnant or be optimistic, and based on the conversations we’ve been having, we’re pretty optimistic.”

The Baltimore-based firm plans to move its Washington outpost from 1500 K Street to 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue in April 2019. The firm’s K Street offices house little more than 30 lawyers and approximately a dozen staff employees. Miles & Stockbridge’s new digs, located kitty-corner to the Trump International Hotel, will have space for 55 lawyers and a total of 80 employees.

Hovermill noted the firm aims to be a dominant player in the Washington region, which also includes the firm’s offices in Northern Virginia and Rockville, Maryland. The new D.C. office was viewed as a “missing piece,” he said, and the firm’s new lease provides the option to expand the space in five years if they so choose. (The firm did not provide other lease details, such as pricing.)

Miles & Stockbridge chair Nancy Greene said the firm is looking to add laterals to its government contracts, IP, corporate, environmental and real estate teams. The firm picked up nine lawyers to its affordable housing and tax credit practice from Bryan Cave earlier this year too, Greene noted.

Hovermill said the firm chose to stay relatively close to its old offices—under one mile away—for the sake of its lawyers’ convenience. He noted that the new office gives the firm access to the rooftop of coveted Pennsylvania Avenue real estate, and the floor plan suited their needs well.

The new office’s 26,000 square foot space—up from 16,500 in the current office—will include five conference rooms, a “centralized gathering place,” and a “treadmill room” with a view of the Capitol Building, according to the firm. The entire office will be colored with a “bright palette.”

Law firms remain Washington, D.C.’s largest private-sector office user, according to commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE’s legal sector trends report for D.C. in 2018. Large firms prefer relocation, the report showed, and the largest firms appear to have shrunk their square foot per lawyer consistently since 2011. Leases signed by the Am Law 100 in 2011 or later have an average of 830 square feet per attorney in D.C., according to CBRE.

Miles & Stockbridge, an Am Law 200 firm, will have fewer than 500 square feet per lawyer at its new office, according to the firm.

In a September analysis, CBRE pegged the asking rental price per square foot in Washington at $60.87 for the second quarter of 2018, which was up from the same period last year. Overall, 1,330,255 square feet changed hands in transactions involving law firms between Q3 2017 and Q2 this year, the company reported.  

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