US firms buoy Europe’s office lettings market

Demand from US law firms is holding up the European legal office lettings market after overall demand dropped by 16 per cent last year.

Exclusive research by property services company Cushman & Wakefield revealed that US law firms are continuing to fuel the legal lettings markets, particularly in Paris and Germany.

Mark Pollitt, head of Cushmans’ European legal group, said demand was being driven by the booming M&A market and “demand from US legal firms as they expand across Europe”.

Baker & McKenzie‘s letting of 9,500sq m in Amsterdam and Reynolds Porter Chamberlain‘s 8,820sq m letting in Tower Bridge House in London topped the list of lettings by US firms in 2005.

However, overall Clifford Chance‘s 13,000sq m pre-let in Paris’s Place Vendôme and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s 2,200sq m pre-let in Frankfurt, both in the first half of 2005, were the largest office moves in Europe last year.

Despite such headline deals, the total take-up of office space in Europe by law firms was down by 16 per cent last year on 2004. London suffered an even greater dip, down almost 40 per cent from 2004.

However, the first quarter of 2006 has seen a rebound in London, with 23,000sq m of take-up by law firms compared with 21,000sq m in the final quarter of 2005.

Lewis Silkin‘s 7,900sq m letting in Chancery Lane has been the largest legal letting in London so far this year.