Law firm cuts square footage almost one-third with move to new office tower; no more corner offices

Faegre Baker Daniels is moving to 1144 Fifteenth in downtown Denver.
(BusinessDen file photo)

There will be no corner offices for rainmaking partners when Faegre Baker Daniels moves from the Wells Fargo building in 2019. And the law firm is removing its library, stocked with physical books.

Those are two of the space-saving measures the firm’s Denver office will be taking when it moves between two downtown office buildings, a shift that will shrink its office space by 31 percent.

The firm announced last week that it signed a lease for 58,000 square feet at 1144 Fifteenth, the 40-story office tower developer Hines completed earlier this year. Faegre Baker Daniels’ has been in 85,000 square feet in the Wells Fargo Center at 1700 Lincoln St. since 2003.

The office’s 58 attorneys and 59 support staff all will make the move, set for spring 2019.

“The intent is to use the space more efficiently,” said Heather Perkins, a partner in the Denver office involved in selecting the new space.

A chunk of the savings, Perkins said, can be attributed to differences in layout between the two buildings, including the placement of elevators and other mechanical infrastructure. Proportionally, 1144 Fifteenth has more usable square feet.

Perkins said the firm is “using space now versus the way we used the space when we built out here 15 years ago (which has changed).” More aspects of the operation are paperless, meaning that less space is needed to store files.

The firm also is doing away with a spacious partner perk. Right now, associate attorneys have offices half the size of partners. And some partners have corner offices, which are even bigger.

At 1144 Fifteenth, all attorney offices will be the same size. And the corners won’t have offices but rather conference rooms and “collaboration spaces.”

In addition to saving space, the shift to uniformity “gives us greater flexibility in who we put in what office,” Perkins said.

Faegre Baker Daniels isn’t the only law firm thinking smaller. The Wall Street Journal reported in the fall that, of the 14 million square feet of office space leased to law firms in 2016 and the first half of 2017, 40 percent was the result of a contraction by the tenant. On average, the firms were shrinking their footprint by 27 percent, according to the story, which cited a CBRE study.

Perkins said the firm believes the new office space will help attract and retain employees and clients. And the building, she said, is “in a more dynamic part of downtown.”

Faegre Baker Daniels isn’t the only firm to decide this year to leave the Wells Fargo Center. Ogletree Deakins recently left for Tower 3 of the Colorado Center, at 2000 S. Colorado Blvd.

At 1144 Fifteenth, Faegre Baker Daniels is taking the entire 34th and 35th floors and a portion of the 36th.

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