Global Law Firm Leases 200 KSF at Chicago’s Willis Tower

Global law firm Seyfarth Shaw has agreed to lease about 200,000 square feet at the 110-story Willis Tower in downtown Chicago in a 15-year-deal that will boost the iconic skyscraper’s occupancy past 90 percent.


Global law firm Seyfarth Shaw L.L.P. has agreed to lease about 200,000 square feet at the 110-story Willis Tower in downtown Chicago in a 15-year-deal that will boost the iconic skyscraper’s occupancy past 90 percent.

The law firm will be moving 600 employees, including staff and attorneys, to the mixed-use tower at 233 S. Wacker Drive from its current offices at Citadel Center, 131 S. Dearborn St. The law firm, which has about 300,000 square feet of space at Citadel Center, is exercising its right to terminate its lease early, according to a Seyfarth Shaw spokesman.

The firm plans to move in 2017 or earlier, “depending on our redesign and build out of the space,” the spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive.

“Willis Tower presents a unique opportunity to align our footprint in Chicago with the innovative needs of our lawyers and staff,” Peter Miller, managing partner of Seyfarth Shaw, said in a news release. “We’re excited to move into such an iconic building, and our new space will allow us to reimagine and design state-of –the-art facilities in order to best serve our clients not just in Chicago, but across the country and around the globe.”

Chicago is Seyfarth Shaw’s largest office.  The firm’s other offices in the United States include Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York. It has two offices in Australia – Melbourne and Sydney – as well as in London and Shanghai.

Melissa Copley, managing partner of Mohr Partners downtown Chicago office, led the search for new space for Seyfarth Shaw. She noted in the news release that Willis Tower had the “efficiency, flexibility and features” the firm was seeking.

“This was an in-depth analysis of the Chicago downtown office market on behalf of Seyfarth Shaw, where we evaluated all possible existing and planned buildings that could potentially meet the firm’s business goals, real estate needs and long-term vision for the firm,” she said in the release.

Copley represented Seyfarth Shaw in the transaction and also worked closely with Kelly Burton, Carl Russo and Tim Dahlman, all of Seyfarth Shaw. Mike Kazmierczak and Derek Rolison of U.S. Equities Asset Management represented Willis Tower on behalf of the ownership, 233 S. Wacker Drive, L.LC. U.S. Equities Asset Management manages and leases the building.

“Given the rapidly evolving needs of today’s law firms, we worked closely with the Seyfarth Shaw team to structure a lease that provides ultimate flexibility for future space needs, on floor plates that allow for optimal collaboration and efficiency,” Kazmierczak, senior vice president of U.S. Equities Asset Management, said in the release.

Seyfarth Shaw will be moving into space at Willis Tower being vacated by another global law firm, Dentons. Last year, Dentons announced it was renewing its lease for another 15 years and moving into new space at the building.  At the time, Kazmierczak told CPE Dentons had been heavily pursued by other properties before deciding to extend its lease at Willis Tower.

Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the skyscraper opened in 1973 and has more than 4.5 million square feet of office and retail space. Located in the West Loop, it is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and home to the Skydeck Chicago observatory on the 103rd floor.

The building has more than 100 companies as tenants, including law firms, financial services firms and insurance companies. With the Seyfarth Shaw deal completed, the building will have more than 90 percent occupancy, with nearly 70 percent of its high-quality tenants signed to long-term leases. The Dentons deal was Chicago’s top office lease of the second quarter in 2013. The previous year, Willis Tower scored another big lease when United Airlines agreed to take an additional 205,000 square feet at the building for its corporate headquarters.