Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Look at Law Firms

Law firms make great tenants. They lease huge amounts of space and their employees are typically well-compensated. According to the St. Louis Business Journal’s Book of Lists, downtown is currently home to 8 of the 10 largest law firms in the St. Louis area:

1) Thompson Coburn (U.S. Bank Building)
2) Bryan Cave (Met Square)
3) Armstrong Teasdale (Met Square)
4) Husch & Eppenberger (Clayton)
5) Greensfelder Hemker & Gale (Equitable Building)
6) Lewis Rice & Fingersh (500 North Broadway)
7) Burroughs Hepler Broom MacDonald Hebrink & True (Edwardsville)
8) Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin (Laclede Gas Building)
9) Brown & James (1010 Market Street)
10) Polsinelli Shalton Welte Suelthaus (Deloitte Building)

Here's a recap of the office space needs of some of downtown's top firms:

In late 2004, Bryan Cave signed a lease at Met Square through 2022.

Thompson Coburn is contemplating a 2010 move and seems to be leaning toward remaining downtown, but is considering Clayton as well.

Unfortunately, had Husch & Eppenberger not moved from the Bank of America Tower to Clayton roughly five years ago, downtown would have 9 of the 10 largest firms. However, Husch & Eppenberger is in merger talks with Blackwell Sanders, which would create the largest law firm in St. Louis. If the combined firm were to end up downtown, the addition of Husch's 170 attorneys would provide a huge boost for the CBD. In early 2006, Blackwell Sanders had planned to move into the General American building, but the deal fell through and the firm ended up renewing its lease for five years in the Laclede Gas building.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Armstrong Teasdale had been considering leasing space in Centene's proposed tower(s) in Clayton, but with Centene now relocating its headquarters to Ballpark Village, perhaps Armstrong Teasdale will now remain downtown and move its offices to the new Centene building. Its other current option is to renew its lease in Met Square.

In 2006, Greensfelder renewed its lease in the Equitable Building, expanding its square footage from 82,000 to 116,000. In the process, it displaced another law firm, Williams, Venker & Sanders, which then moved to 25,000 square feet in the Bank of America Tower. The firm plans to add 55 attorneys over the next five years.

Lewis Rice is looking to move from its current digs at 500 N. Broadway. Husch's old space in the Bank of America Tower appears to be the front-runner.

Polsinelli is apparently considering two downtown sites - One City Centre and Ballpark Village - and two Clayton sites - Shaw Park Point and the new Montgomery Bank tower. It currently has attorneys in both downtown and Clayton.

More law firm updates to come...

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