Leeds law firms lead drive for super-prime sustainable offices

Majestic, Leeds

Leeds law firms are leading the drive towards best-in-class offices as intense competition for talent creates record demand for super-prime sustainable offices, according to the latest research from global real estate advisor Knight Frank.

Knight Frank’s Law Firm Report, published this week, revealed that the office space taken by law firms in Leeds was 100,743 sq ft last year, a 202% rise on 2020.

This was primarily due to DLA Piper’s 83,000 sq ft pre-let at City Square House, a new highly sustainable, best-in class building, close to Leeds City Station, which is being designed to support the wellbeing and productivity of employees.

Eamon Fox, partner and head of Knight Frank’s office agency department in Leeds, explained: “The legal sector is Leeds is currently turbo-charged, driven by a combination of a focus on talent attraction and employee wellbeing and a need to align law firm’s real estate with post-pandemic workplace strategies and sustainability commitments.

“Apart from the DLA Piper deal, which is a game-changer in the Leeds office market, other leading law firms such as Knights, Lupton Fawcett and rradar have moved, or are just about to move, to superb new modern and sustainable offices with a brilliant working environment. Gone are the days of stuffy, uncomfortable, rabbit-warren type offices.

“There is no doubt that attracting and retaining the very best talent there is, is crucial to law firms in Leeds. During the past 20 years the legal sector in the city has flourished, providing an attractive and viable alternative to London. The lure of the capital is no longer so strong, with the quality of life in Yorkshire, and the abundance of work here, meaning that many lawyers are actively choosing to work in Leeds rather than London.

“That is why leading Leeds law firms are choosing their real estate to give them an edge over the competition. That is why Knights have moved to the Majestic, Lupton Fawcett to 2 The Embankment and rradar to Platform, all state-of-the-art sustainable buildings that offer superb amenities, particularly for physical and mental wellbeing, and make a bold statement about their ESG values.”

Jennifer Townsend, Partner, Occupier Research at Knight Frank, commented: “Law firms remain committed to the office, recognising its role in supporting, facilitating, and portraying business strategy. Law firms cited difficulties in training and developing junior lawyers, building cultural ties, and developing deeper client relationships in a fully remote working environment. However, law firms are also reimagining the office.

“Looking at the drivers of leasing transactions in 2021, there were common themes of sustainability, health and wellbeing, and the flight to quality, with occupiers investing in amenity-rich, highly connected spaces. Law firms are creating workplaces with new ways of working in mind, centred around collaboration, innovation, client-centricity and learning and development.”