Two years after entering the New York market, Silicon Valley firm Fenwick & West plans to move to long-term office space in the Flatiron District—a rare move for an Am Law 100 firm to Manhattan’s Midtown south.
Fenwick & West, which has been subletting space from Ropes & Gray in Midtown since 2016, will move this fall to 902 Broadway under a 10-year lease. The firm is more than doubling its space to 36,400 square feet across two floors at the Broadway office.
In moving to Flatiron, Fenwick said it will be close to clients including Facebook, BuzzFeed, Bonobos, Bitly, Knotel, Grovo Learning, Dropbox, WhoSay, Parsec Media, Taboola, PebblePost and Away Travel, as well as tech and life sciences startups. Google is also nearby in Chelsea.
Fenwick is the first Am Law 100 firm in more than a decade to move to Midtown south, an area encompassing Chelsea, Flatiron, Union Square, Madison Square and Tribeca and Soho, said Fenwick’s broker on the office deal, Ken Rapp, who worked alongside other CBRE brokers including David Kleinhandler and Clay Hammerstein.
Rapp said he is aware of only one other Am Law 100 firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, in Midtown south.
The Flatiron District is “ground zero for startup tech companies,” Rapp said, which are attracted to the area because of older, smaller, loftier space. The structure of the buildings there also lends itself to more open floor plans, he said.
Cooley, a competitor of Fenwick for tech work, and other law firms have announced splashy moves to Hudson Yards. But Fenwick chairman Richard Dickson said Hudson Yards was never a consideration.
Dickson said it had always been the firm’s vision to relocate to Flatiron to be close to clients, including emerging companies and those in the tech and life sciences area. “We often, when deciding on location, try to look very carefully on where the clients are located,” he said, citing benefits of having more in-person meetings with clients.
After starting with seven attorneys, the New York office has about 30 professionals, including about 20 lawyers, the firm said. Since 2017, the firm also added three lateral partners to its New York office, including corporate lawyer Ethan Skerry from Lowenstein Sandler; trademark attorney Jeffrey Greene from Foley & Lardner; and cybersecurity attorney Jim Koenig from Paul Hastings. Dickson said the firm continues to recruit in New York, seeking attorneys with tech and life sciences expertise.
When asked about any challenges of entering and growing in New York, Dickson offered a rosy picture. “We’ve been very successful from the start,” he said, adding the firm’s New York business has doubled in less than two years.
While the law firm has traditionally represented emerging companies and tech and life sciences companies, Dickson said other clients are seeking out the firm for its tech expertise. In the last two years, Fenwick has represented Delphi Automotive in its purchase of nuTonomy and represented American Express in its acquisition of InAuth. The firm’s New York lawyers also represented Bonobos and Jet. com in two separate acquisitions by Walmart.
Dickson declined to discuss financial terms of the office lease, which was signed earlier this week. Asking rents for the building are $69 a square foot. “We feel very good about the deal,” he said.
According to preliminary The American Lawyer reporting, Fenwick’s gross revenue, after dipping in 2016, rose 3.7 percent in 2017 to $374.9 million, while profits per partner inched up 1.5 percent to $1.51 million.