A&O’s waste of space

What price togetherness? For Allen & Overy, a cool £25m.

That’s how much the magic circle firm had to shell out to bring its Canary Wharf lawyers back to the London HQ at Bishop’s Square in 2010 (see story).

The thing is, the move was mid-way through the lease on the satellite office. The firm must have really missed its Canary Wharf colleagues, since the satellite office is still lying empty.

Although the cost was recognised in the 2010-11 LLP as a lump sum, the true cost will be spread over the life of the lease – lest that all important morale boost be undone by an nasty dent in partner profits.

The one-off cost of £24.6m came from writing off all assets within the office, the rent payable during an estimated period while the office is empty and an estimate of the loss on subletting the property for the remainder of the lease.

To make faraway Canary Wharf a bit more palatable for its lawyers, A&O experimented with open plan offices and even installed some break-out areas with table football. But in the Docklands desert it seems that even compulsory fun and games didn’t do the trick.

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