Manchester is the UK city with greatest importance outside of London in terms of the number of legal offices and free earners according to a report into the legal sector by CBRE.
The report revealed that Manchester has a total of 42 legal offices in the city compared to the 29 of second-placed Edinburgh. Manchester is also top for the number of free earners with over 2,000 practicing lawyers working in the city.
In terms of total floor space occupied by law firms, Manchester is ranked 3rd in the UK, suggesting that there are a number of smaller practices alongside other sectors working in the city.
John Ogden (pictured), managing director of CBRE’s North West business, said: “This latest research is fantastic news for the Manchester office market, confirming the city’s strong appeal to the legal sector, which has turned a corner since the global financial crisis.
“The legal sector’s increased buoyancy is tempered by enhanced pressure from ambitious competitors within their market who are competing for greater market share, and also from their corporate clients seeking to maximise value for money. As a result we are seeing vigorous levels of office occupier activity from law firms as they review their business models and look to align their real estate to future plans.
“The emphasis on cost reduction is leading to a wave of expansion outside of London in key regional cities such as Manchester where firms can operate at a substantial discount within buildings of excellence.”
Office space take-up from law firms in the Manchester market has also increased at pace in the past few years. Key deals have included 104,300 square foot to Slater & Gordon, 44,800 square foot to DLA Piper and 42,700 square foot to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
Furthermore, the CBRE report found that Manchester sits in the top tier of UK cities for law firm occupation, with more than 750,000 square foot of office space occupied by law firms. This places Manchester a significant distance ahead of the tier-two cities of Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow, which sit in the 300,000-500,000 square foot bracket.
Looking ahead, the report said that schemes such as Two St Peter’s Square, 40 Spring Gardens, and 101 and 100 Embankment are well-placed to attract occupiers from the legal sector due to their strategic positioning and the prestige associated with innovative, high-design buildings.