The map of Washington is about to shift. That’s what we found in a citywide survey of the largest law firms on their plans and possibilities as a number of office leases end in the next few years. From the story:
Steptoe & Johnson LLP has a decision on its hands. Between now and the end of the year, the firm will choose whether to move its 300 Washington lawyers to a new office, or stay in the Dupont Circle building it constructed during the early 1980s.
So far, the firm’s “space committee” has thought about spots in “NoMa,” the budding modernist neighborhood north of Massachusetts Avenue and straddling North Capitol Street. They’ve looked around CityCenterDC, where Covington & Burling will move this fall. They’ve met a few times a month and talked with developers.
“We can just kick the can down the road or we can re-up for a term where we are,” firm chairman Philip West said in an interview. “It seems like it’s a good time to be in the market. There are a lot of opportunities.”
The opportunities are many because of the changing—and shrinking—landscape of law firms and a number of new developments aimed at attracting firms, the largest occupier of space outside of this company town’s ruling company, the government. Covington and Arnold & Porter will vacate buildings that for years clustered the densest group of attorneys in the city near Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Those two firms alone will decamp with almost 900 lawyers for 790,000 freshly built square feet in buildings north and east of Metro Center.
Around the same time, a gaggle of firms will anticipate their leases ending after contracts of 10 or more years or shorter extensions that have allowed them to hunker down during the financial crisis. Also in the market for new leases are Latham & Watkins; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Venable; and Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner. Those four firms, in addition to Steptoe, have the potential to move more than 1,200 lawyers to different locations in the city.
Don’t miss the interactive maps we’ve published that explain where lawyers are moving, which firms are in the real estate market and when.
Contact reporter Katelyn Polantz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-828-0312. On Twitter: @kpolantz.