Finally, some good news for the office market as Law Firms leased more office space in 2023 than they did during any of the pandemic years, 2020-2022. In fact, per this article, they leased more in 2023 than in 2017, 2018, or 2019.

Law firm office-leasing activity hit a milestone in 2023. It could fuel a domino effect.

By Ashley Fahey – Editor, The National Observer: Real Estate Edition, The Business Journals

The legal industry leased more office space last year than it has since the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2023, U.S. law firms leased a collective 16.9 million square feet, according to Cushman & Wakefield plc (NYSE: CWK). That’s not only more office space leased by the sector since the Covid-19 pandemic, but exceeds the amount leased nationally by law firms in 2017, 2018 and 2019, as tracked by Cushman.

The legal industry has bucked the broader trend of office-market leasing since the pandemic upended norms around office-space usage. While law firms, like other industries, have taken a hard look at their office real estate, they on the whole are using the office more regularly than other industries. Therefore, they’ve occupied a more robust segment of the leasing market while other industries have slowed their deal activity, put spaces on the sublease market or exited big chunks of space.

For those in commercial real estate who work with law firms on their office-space needs or otherwise track the industry, the legal sector’s recent leasing activity is indicative of its new normal.

Many law firms that saw their leases expire in 2020 or 2021 inked a short-term extension because of the uncertainty during the height of the pandemic. But in the past two years, law firms have gone back to the office more frequently and overall feel more confident making longer-term decisions about their space, said John McWilliams, senior research analyst at Cushman.

The biggest relocation signed by a law firm since the pandemic, according to Savills plc, was Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s deal inked late last year. The international law firm agreed to take 765,931 square feet at 1345 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan. Not only was it the largest law office relocation since the pandemic, it was also the largest office lease signed across all industries and the U.S. last year.