Law firm leasing is exceeding pre-pandemic levels

April 29, 2024
  • Jacob Rowden
  • Elena Lanning
  • Positive leasing momentum in recent quarters has driven gross U.S. office leasing activity to 75% of pre-pandemic levels over the past 12 months, but some segments of the market have been more active—legal services firms have been one of the earliest major industries to exceed pre-pandemic levels, with their leasing volume over the past 12 months exceeding 2018-2019 levels by 8%.
  • Law firms’ share of U.S. office activity is growing as a result of their faster recovery: despite generating just 8.7% of gross leasing activity from 2010-2019, legal firms have comprised 12.2% of leasing over the past five quarters, surpassing the technology sector, which led all industries in office leasing from 2010-2022.
  • Many law firms are not just transacting but have been expanding footprints to accommodate stricter-than-typical office attendance policies: Sidley Austin signed one of the largest legal leases of the quarter in Dallas, leasing 118,000 s.f. in Granite Properties’ 23Springs, which will deliver in 2025—an expansion of nearly 50% from their current office lease in Dallas, an 80,000-s.f. space at McKinney & Olive.
  • In addition to being a bright spot from an activity level, legal firms have been less hesitant to make long-term commitments than other sectors: The average legal lease over 10,000 s.f. was executed with an 9.6-year term, and more than 50% of legal lease volume was in 10-year leases or longer.