US law firms drive demand for London office space

updated on 20 November 2023

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Law firms signed for more than 380,000 square feet of office space in the third quarter, which is 52% higher than a year ago, according to property consultancy Knight Frank. This recent increase in demand is largely down to US firms’ expansions.

US firms accounted for 90% of office spaces signed for by legal companies over the three months leading up to 30 September 2023. For example, Proskauer Rose, a New York-founded firm, recently signed for 60,000 square-feet worth of office at the new 51-storey skyscraper, 8 Bishopsgate.

On top of spaces already leased, firms have a further requirement for 1.4 million square feet of live office space in London. Of this, 50% of the demand comes from US firms. Jennifer Townsend, partner at Knight Frank, explains that: "London remains a top expansionary target for international law firms […]. US firms have been driving the market through expansion and seeking prestigious, ‘super-prime’ space, which they intend to use as a tool for talent attraction as well as to make a clear statement about their brand to clients.”                                                                                               

The way office spaces are being used is also changing, as many firms have adapted to hybrid working following the pandemic. However, this change doesn’t dissuade demand for new office spaces. Several landlords have reported demand for high-quality offices in London, even if staff aren’t in the office five days a week, according to The Evening Standard. Richard Proctor, head of London tenant representation at Knight Frank, said that “international law firms [are] at the leading edge of the sector’s move toward office-led hybrid working models”, where working from home is more common. However, firms also “increasingly value environmentally sustainable, flexible, and modern workspaces with amenities and services that will be attractive to future graduates”.