Real estate costs in law firms – The Lawyer UK 200 report

Posted on: October 26, 2015

During the summer I worked with The Lawyer magazine analysing the real estate costs in law firms. Real estate costs and a wide range of other financial and head count data for over a 100 of the UK’s 200 leading law firms were analysed to produce the first detailed report (sponsored by JLL) on real estate in law firms and an article was published on 14th September 2015 http://www.thelawyer.com/the-lawyer-uk-200-2015-which-firms-are-getting-the-most-out-of-their-property/3038936.article showing some of the findings.

The highlights are as follows:

  • Average real estate cost per lawyer is around £18,200 per year (23% increase on 2013)
    • Average cost per lawyer in London is £24,675 compared to £14,683 outside London
  • Average real estate cost per person is £8,032 per annum
    • 30% are paying between £2,500 and £5,000 per person
    • 26% are paying £5,000 to £7,500
  • Average space per lawyer at 483 sq ft per lawyer has increased seven per cent since 2013
    • Average of 399 sq ft in London and 486 sq ft outside London
  • Firms paid an average of £41.13 per sq ft
    • 19% are paying less than £20 per sq ft
    • 44% between £20 and £40 per sq ft
    • 13% more than £60 per sq ft
  • Firms generated an average of £589.78 revenue per sq ft
    • Three quarters of firms are generating between £250 and £750 per sq ft
    • 23% of firms generating over £750 of revenue per sq ft
  • Smallest firms and lowest users of space are spending between 1.6 and 5.2 per cent of their total revenue on office space whereas the largest firms are spending between 4.2 and 10.1 per cent
  • Generally, the highest prime rents are in London West End (£117 per sq ft) and the lowest in Belfast (£15.50), Nottingham (£19.50) and Southampton (£19.50)
    • On average, firms in the sample are paying £65.94 per sq ft in London compared to £30.63 outside London
  • Amongst the top 10 highest UK costs are Osborne Clarke, Weightmans, Trowers & Hamlin, Withers, Mills & Reeve, Clarke Willmott, Shepperd & Wedderburn, Watson Farley & Williams, TLT and Penningtons Manches

I would like to express my thanks to the following firms for allowing me to produce case studies on their real estate strategies:

  • CMS
  • Keystone Law
  • Russell-Cooke
  • Thomson Snell & Passmore

And to the following organisations for providing expert insight into a range of real estate, technology and human resources topics:

  • Anthony Bennett of Bennett Hay
  • Geoffrey Lander, past president of British Council for Offices (BCO)
  • Antony Slumbers of Estates Today
  • Leeson Medhurst at Fourfront Group
  • Tim Oldman of Leesman Index
  • Malcolm Lewis of Trowers & Hamlin

 

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