Paul Hastings Shrinks Office, Not Staff: Business of Law

With the lease on Paul Hastings LLP’s Manhattan office ending in 2016, managing partner Barry Brooks knew it was time to reassess the firm’s footprint.

Although the office was built in 2000, the space seemed out of date and inefficient. There are fewer assistants and “we’re continuing to shrink the library and the file room,” Brooks said in an interview.

The New York office had simply become too big, he said. It’s not that the firm is shedding lawyers -- it’s likely to add at least 40 more in the next few years, according to Brooks.

As a result, the firm this month signed a lease for 183,000 square feet in the midtown MetLife Building, about 25 percent less space than the lawyers occupy in their current location.

The firm is “trying to be creative,” Brooks said. “Some lawyers have aligned themselves to the good old days, but we are now a technology-driven practice.”

Vestigial bookshelves won’t be as prevalent and individual offices are likely to be smaller, he said. Corner offices, a traditional sign of partner prestige, may be replaced by common meeting areas, he added.

In addition, he said, “there’s the question of how people coming out of law school work. They’re used to working in cafes and they want to sit next to their colleagues. We couldn’t have a totally open plan, because lawyers still need their offices. But those offices don’t need to be as big as before.”

Paul Hastings is by no means unusual in re-imagining its offices, and it’s working with Gensler, a New York-based architecture and design firm that has developed a practice helping law firms.

According to Timothy Bromiley, a Gensler senior associate working on the Paul Hastings project, although attorneys “typically occupy 2-2.5 times more square footage per person than in other industries, law firms are now looking to other companies to adopt trends in the use of space they had previously been reluctant to do.”

The catalyst for change was the recession, according to Gensler managing director Julia Simet.

“Real estate is a firm’s number-two cost” following compensation, she said, and law firm clients are “always looking at the bottom line.”

Despite promised savings, change is often hard for lawyers. Brooks concedes he’s heard “some rumblings about reduced office size. But most who think about it for a minute or two realize that clients don’t come to partner offices, only associates do. The question is whether there’s room for an enclosed space for a team. Because at the end of the day, partners don’t need the couch.”

Deals

Jones Day and Kirkland Advise on Eastman Chemical-Taminco Deal

Jones Day represented Eastman Chemical Co., the world’s second-biggest producer of cigarette filter materials, in its acquisition of Taminco Corp., which makes chemicals used in water treatment and agriculture.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP represented Taminco, whose majority owner is Apollo Global Management LLC. The deal is valued at approximately $1.8 billion in cash, Kingsport, Tennessee-based Eastman said yesterday in a statement.

The Jones Day deal team representing Eastman was led by partners William Rowland and Sterling Spainhour, mergers and acquisitions, and also included partners Bill Zawrotny and Bryan Davis, mergers and acquisitions; Mark Hanson, capital markets; Bob Graves, banking and finance; David Wales and Alexandre Verheyden, antitrust; and Rory Lyons and Travis DeHaven, employee benefits and executive compensation.

The Kirkland team was led by corporate partners Taurie Zeitzer and Gareth Clark in New York.

Lateral Moves

Thompson Hine, Weil, Gibson Dunn, Nelson Mullins Add Partners

Thompson Hine LLP expanded its labor-and-employment practice with the addition of Sharon Parella as partner and Leah Ramos as senior counsel in New York. Previously, Parella was a partner and Ramos an associate at Morrison & Foerster LLP. Parella focuses on employment issues specific to the financial industry, including defending companies and their boards against discrimination, compensation and breach-of-contract claims in state and federal courts as well as before regulatory agencies and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Damian Ridealgh joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP as a partner in its global finance practice, based in New York. He focuses primarily on the financing needs of private equity and corporate clients. Previously, Ridealgh was a partner at Ashurst LLP, where he led that firm’s U.S. banking practice. He has also been a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.

Stuart Graiwer joined the Century City, California, office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP as a partner. Graiwer, formerly a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, has a transactional commercial real estate practice, with an emphasis on representing institutional investors and private-equity clients in connection with acquisitions, dispositions and financings of all asset classes. He recently represented the Golden State Warriors in its acquisition of property to develop an arena in San Francisco, the firm said in a statement.

Donna Rascoe joined the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP as a partner on its education team. A former teacher and school administrator, Rascoe advises and litigates on behalf of public and private schools on a variety of legal matters. She also handles employment and other civil litigation matters for school districts and other public entities.

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