Growth in Law Offices

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Ramstack, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Washington's office real estate market is predicted to do well for the next year in a new industry report ... but for the most dubious of reasons

As the nation's economy falters, more people are hiring lawyers to protect their homes from foreclosure or their businesses from bankruptcy.

For the office market, more lawyers means more law firms are leasing offices.

Washington has more lawyers as a percentage of the population than nearly anywhere else in the world. More than 30,000 are practicing law in the District.

Looking ahead, demand for legal services is likely to rise over the next year, in part due to the financial crisis, said the market report from the real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle. The tumult in the markets has led many firms to position themselves to leverage their litigation, bankruptcy and restructuring practices, and, on the lobbying front, companies across the U.S. are recognizing the need for more government relations support.

The upbeat outlook for Washington's office market stands in sharp contrast to most other cities.

Real estate markets for Las Vegas and Phoenix will get blown out in 2009, according to a report last week from the financial consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Florida markets are in disarray, and Midwestern cities continue to lose more ground.

The cyclical real estate markets always come back, and they will this time too, but not any time soon, said PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Tim Conlon. Commercial real estate was the last to leave the party, will feel the pain in 2009 and may be the last to recover.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, law firms have nearly filled up the central business district, forcing them to build or lease offices in other parts of town. …