Sidley Austin Brown & Wood will have a permanent base in midtown Manhattan by next summer.
The firm saw its previous New York office in the World Trade Center (WTC) destroyed by the terrorist attacks of 11 September. The race has been on to secure sufficient space for its 1,000 staff. The firm has signed a long-term lease for 11 floors of the Equitable Centre on Seventh Avenue. The decision takes the firm away from its traditional downtown location. Founded in 1914, Brown & Wood had long been a part of the downtown legal community. It moved into the WTC in 1982. Prior to 11 September, the firm had planned to take more space in the WTC to consolidate the merger between Sidley Austin and Brown & Wood. Executive committee chairman Thomas Cole said: "As much as we were looking forward to consolidating our New York office at the WTC, we couldn't be happier with securing ample space to accomplish the same goal at the Equitable." The firm is understood to have faced stiff competition for the space. American Express had been mooted as the most likely candidate for the real estate. It has instead decided to return to space in the financial centre. Thomas Smith Jr, vice chairman of Sidley Austin's management committee, said that the firm had to act quickly to secure its new home. He added that he had mixed feelings about moving from downtown.