Bristol ranked number one UK legal centre outside of London

Philip Morton, Head of Office Agency & Development at CBRE Bristol

Bristol is the number one UK regional city for law firms, with nearly 875,000 sq ft of occupied office space, according to a new report published by leading property advisers CBRE.

Law in the Regions provides a comprehensive overview of the Legal sector in the UK regions in early 2016, with Bristol having the largest volume of legal office space outside of London, followed by Birmingham and Manchester. CBRE’s report also reveals the average legal office size occupied in Bristol is the second largest outside of London, while the average rent paid per sq ft is the lowest of the ‘Big 6’ regional cities.

The report combines quantitative and qualitative analysis to provide key benchmark indicators such as top 30 law firm locations, top cities by number of fee earners, average area and rent per fee earner with an oversight of the main drivers underpinning real estate strategies (obtained from in-depth interviews with some of the country’s top law firms).

In addition to these benchmarking indicators, Law in the Regions investigates causality of a recent wave of real estate activity from law firms across the UK. Office space take-up from law firms in the Bristol market has also improved in the past few years, with key deals including 39,000 sq ft to Veale Wasborough Vizards LLP, 30,000 sq ft to TLT, 13,500 sq ft to New Law Legal and 10,500 sq ft to Burroughs Day.

Philip Morton, Head of Office Agency & Development at the Bristol office of CBRE, said: “Positive demand for legal services has bolstered confidence of law firms, many of whom are taking the opportunity to review their business models and are now looking to selectively invest in real estate in order to align it with future expansion plans.

“UK regional cities have a lot to offer law firms who can occupy space at a substantially discounted rate to London. In the case of Bristol, the city has a large pool of legal talent and great connectivity by rail, air and the M4 and M5 motorways.”

Emma Jackson, Associate Director in CBRE Research, comments: “Key to our findings is that one size does not fit all when it comes to real estate strategy. Different business models and location starting points will require different real estate strategies. One thing is certain however, law firms are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach to real estate strategy, and as a result we are seeing a huge variety of different space requirements in UK regional cities and indeed a significant variation in the average area per fee earner.”