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Chicago’s largest law firms rightsize their space

Law firms have historically signed leases that allow for more square feet per employee than most others

July 24, 2019
  • Law firms have historically signed leases that allow for more square feet per employee than most others. While that remains true, over a dozen recent deals signed since 2016, more than 2.6 MSF, show that the industry is getting substantially more efficient with how they assess their space. 
  • The standard square foot per attorney was well over 1,000 many years ago, but has gradually fallen to a point where it is now “only” 841 square feet, on average from the 16 out of 32 largest firms. Given that 8.6% decrease, there are still another 16 firms that have pending expirations and could follow suit. 
  • One additional factor in rightsizing, is the reduction of secretary-per-attorney. Now at a 10:1 ratio on average, it was once 4:1 – spreading out the number of attorneys each secretary supports, which in turn allows a better utilization of interior office space.

Source: JLL Research/rejournals

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