London reaffirms its position as Europe’s top legal centre
22 Jan, 2008, Europe
London accounted for nearly half (47 per cent) of the total office space let to law firms in Europe's top 16 legal centres in the first nine months of last year, according to EMEA Legal Services Business Briefing, the biannual publication of global real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield.
The UK capital, which saw 91,600 sq m leased to the legal sector over the year to September, is followed by Paris-Ile de France with 19 per cent (38,160 sq m) and Warsaw, which is emerging as a key legal centre in Central Europe, with 5 per cent (8,800 sq m).
Mark Pollitt, head of Cushman & Wakefield’s EMEA Legal Group, comments: “London has emerged as a global gateway for the legal sector. It is home to Europe’s top four law firms – Freshfields, Bruckhaus Deringer, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Allen & Overy – which have all expanded dramatically internationally over recent years. Its success as a legal centre is also down to the phenomenal growth of London’s capital markets over recent years.”
When compared with the same period last year, take-up by the legal sector increased by more than a third (35 per cent) in London in the first nine months of 2007. London also accounts for six of the top ten leasing transactions involving legal firms, with the top transaction in Europe being the leasing of 22,450 sq m to Mayer Brown at the new development at 201 Bishopsgate in the City of London.
However, Mark warns: “We are beginning to see activity slowing in all sectors across London as decisions are put on hold in the short term as part of the credit crunch affect. However, given the current shortage of good-quality office space in the right location an extended period of low activity is not anticipated.”
Overall, the legal sector accounted for around 2.7 per cent of total European office take-up across the 16 locations in the first nine months of 2007, with 195,930 sq m of space being let to law firms. This is down from 3.3 per cent in the same period in 2006, when 197,470 sq m was transacted.
Other key findings of the EMEA Legal Services Business Briefing, published by Cushman & Wakefield, include:
Law firms accounted for 24 per cent of total office take-up in Edinburgh in the first nine months of 2007, followed by London with 12 per cent, Glasgow 8 per cent and Rome 7.9 per cent.
Take-up in Frankfurt was only 5,036 sq m, 67 per cent down on the same period last year, as law firms focus on other cities in Germany. Munich in particular is favoured by new entrants given the large number of blue-chip companies headquartered there.
Europe’s five most important legal centres – London, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels and Amsterdam – saw their share fall by 5 percentage points to 77 per cent of total take-up for over the year to September.
Regarding Warsaw’s emergence at No. 3 in the take-up ranking in the first nine months of this year, Alicja Sitkowska of Cushman & Wakefield’s Advisory Department in Poland says: “Total office take-up has steadily increased in Warsaw, driven by the capital’s general economic development as well as by increasing prosperity, with the professional services sector, especially the legal sector, accounting for a greater share of the demand each year.” The largest deal last year in Warsaw was the leasing of 2,800 sq m by French legal firm Salans in the Rondo 1 office tower.
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