Will Henson of Slater Heelis writes:
As a commercial property lawyer myself, I’m used to advising landlords on deals involving tenants from a vast array of industry sectors.
Regional city deals involving office schemes are always likely to involve one of the professional services and, according to a recent report by property agent Knight Frank, it is my own industry that is radically changing the structure and driving demand for regional city real estate deals.
Knight Frank’s Legal Sector Report found that Manchester’s legal sector is expanding faster than any other regional city and at more than twice the rate of Central London.
The report also showed Manchester recorded the highest legal services sector office take-up by square footage across all UK regional cities at 155,328 sq ft during 2017.
Some 13 per cent of total office take-up in Manchester involved law firms, which is more than double the figure for Central London.
It seems that we at Slater Heelis on Deansgate are in good company.
Experts at Knight Frank believe the boom in Manchester’s legal sector is being driven by a combination of innovative firms using property to drive cultural change.
And, of course, I’m bound to agree!
I can talk with significant experience being ingrained in the city centre legal scene for maybe more years than I dare to remember when I say the legal sector is facing market shifts like never before and the mid-tier firms especially are becoming increasingly innovative and agile in order to meet the needs of 21st century clients.
The comparatively high number of M&A deals in the legal sector (some 40 were recorded throughout 2017) often results in multiple regional office locations, increased levels of recruitment and emphasis on the importance and independence of regional markets.
The stats alone should be enough to make the property sector sit up and take notice. But for more evidence, landlords could take a look at how the legal sector is at the forefront of using property as a strategic tool to attract and retain new talent and drive cultural change.
Some of the highest spec space across the UK has been taken by progressive law firms. And none more so than Manchester.
There will always be the obvious considerations when marketing office schemes – transport infrastructure, local amenities, parking and so on.
But professional services companies, and law firms in particular it would appear, are looking for property which can play an integral role in taking them to the next level.
Regional offices are no longer seen as satellites to the HQs, they are flagships in their own rights. Firms want their people to feel they are equally respected and considered regardless of which postcode their desk inhabits.
The design of internal spaces and amenities is becoming increasingly relevant and landlords with genuinely something that little bit different to offer can find potential law firm tenants particularly receptive to property that not only matches but can help develop their brands.
My advice to landlords, and agents for that matter, is to make it a priority to stay close to what’s happening in the legal sector – and there’s no better place than from the horse’s mouth.
We are an amenable bunch in the Slater Heelis property team when it comes to offering added value to our networks so please seek one or more of us out if you want to get your ear closer to the ground of our ever-changing industry.
You can contact me confidentially on email@example.com or by calling 0161 672 1514.
This article was originally published on Place Resources.