Despite rising rents in many U.S. markets, the legal industry can still find opportunities to improve real estate efficiency, according to JLL’s latest annual Law Firm Perspective. The typical U.S. law firm has sharply reduced its office footprint by 22.2 percent, from an historical average of 976 square feet to 760 square feet today, and cut annual U.S. rent-per-attorney by 12.1 percent, from an historical average of $38,535 to $33,879 today. While new Class A office buildings command an average premium of 12.1 percent above market rents, JLL anticipates that law firms will find sublease opportunities and attractive, cost-effective options in non-trophy office buildings in traditional areas.
Locally in San Diego, law firms remain conservative with their real estate with many firms shedding excess and inefficient space. However San Diego is not as progressive as some other primary U.S markets in decreasing footprints with average square foot per attorney still being among the highest in the nation. Opportunities for law firms looking to grow are arising in UTC and Carmel Valley areas based on existing law firms giving back space, plus the onslaught of new speculative office construction which will further weaken the market.