A rendering of Williams & Connolly’s new office building in the Wharf.

Williams & Connolly confirmed Friday that it is leaving downtown Washington, D.C., and moving to the Wharf in 2022.

Williams & Connolly will occupy 300,000 square feet in two commercial towers as part of the second phase of a multibillion-dollar development giving Washington’s southwest waterfront a face-lift, according to an announcement from the Wharf developers and the firm. The joint statement from Hoffman-Madison Waterfront (HMW) and Williams & Connolly said the firm agreed to a 15-year lease in the towers located at 690 Maine Ave. SW.

“From our founding more than 50 years ago, this firm has been regarded as a Washington institution, and we have always been proud to be a part of the fabric of the Washington, D.C., community,” Joseph Petrosinelli, the firm’s newly selected chairman, said in a statement. “As we look to the future, we are excited to be at the forefront of the further development of the city taking place along the waterfront. It is the perfect location for Williams & Connolly to launch its next 50 years.”

Williams & Connolly’s downtown offices in City Center D.C. at 12th Street NW have served as a home for the firm’s 300-plus lawyers since the early 1990s. The firm was founded in 1967 by Edward Bennett Williams and Paul Connolly and made its bones on litigation and an eagerness to go to trial. It has grown to attract more than $400 million in annual revenue. The firm rarely adds prominent lateral hires, choosing instead to promote from within its own ranks in a tradition set by its founders.

The firm is not known for making rapid changes, but it is undergoing several as the 2019 calendar year approaches. Williams & Connolly said last week that Petrosinelli will assume Dane Butswinkas’ duties as chairman when Butswinkas formally takes over as general counsel at Tesla Inc. One of Petrosinelli’s first tasks looks to be guiding the firm through a move that the firm was considering for some time.

“After a lengthy and thorough search process, we concluded that the Wharf design and location were the perfect choice for our unique space requirements and approach to law practice,” Kenneth Smurzynski, chairman of Williams & Connolly’s real estate committee who led the search process, said in a statement.

Fish & Richardson was the first Big Law firm to move to the burgeoning neighborhood along the Potomac River earlier this year, where it will be joined by Michael Best & Friedrich in early 2019. Both Fish and Michael Best have taken office space at 1000 Maine Ave. SW. Several other firms are making the move to Pennsylvania Avenue, including Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is moving soon, too, but has elected to stay in Washington’s DuPont Circle neighborhood when it moves in 2019.


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