Global Law Firm Renews Lease at Former Sears Tower

Dentons, the world’s seventh-largest law firm, has extended its lease in Chicago Willis Tower for 15 years. The global law firm is relocating within the building and taking as much as 144,000 square feet.

Dentons, the world’s seventh-largest law firm, has extended its lease in Willis Tower for 15 years. The global law firm, formerly known as Sonnenschein and more recently as SNR Denton, is relocating within the building and taking up to 144,000 square feet of new space.

“Dentons is one of the building’s longest-standing tenants and its extension shows the significant value that the law firm and others see in the building,” Mike Kazmierczak, senior vice president of leasing for U.S. Equities Asset Management, told Commercial Property Executive. “Dentons knows everything about Willis Tower; its operations, management, location, amenities and infrastructure. Even after being heavily pursued by other properties, Dentons’ decision to remain in the building after so many years is a testament to Willis Tower’s market position as a leading environment for business.”

The extension bolsters Willis Tower’s standing as a prominent hub for global commerce as it continues to meet the demanding needs of today’s leading businesses. According to Kazmierczak, when Willis Tower was built by the Sears Corp., it was engineered and designed in a way that has allowed it to stand the test of time.

“It remains, from a technology and infrastructure perspective, competitive with today’s newest buildings,” he said. “As a result, Willis Tower is able to serve and easily adapt to the needs of a full spectrum of companies from large corporations to the world’s leading law firms to leading tech companies.”

The new lease will mean brand new space for the firm, to be built out before the move. Dentons will remain in its current space in the building until the new space is completely built out. Mary G. Wilson, managing partner of the Chicago office of Dentons, cited Willis Tower’s flexibility, efficient floor plates and superior amenities as primary factors in the decision to remain in the building.

“Willis Tower meets the technology, infrastructure and location needs of our global law firm,” she said in a company statement. “We evaluated dozens of alternatives and concluded that reinventing our physical space within Willis Tower will best meet the needs of our professionals and clients.”

Willis Tower’s ownership has positioned itself to actively lease the building both with renewals and new tenants. And, based on recent deals that have closed, the flexibility Willis Tower offers is a positive attraction for tenants of all sizes.

“This particular lease extension speaks to the fact that Willis Tower goes above and beyond to provide the best business environment, amenities location and services for existing and prospective tenants,” Kazmierczak said. “It is significant when any new tenant decides to move into the building, but it sends an even stronger message when a long-term tenant explores the market and decides to stay.”

Willis Tower completed more than one million square feet of leasing in 2012. United Airlines expanded its lease by moving its global headquarters to the building, where it had already had built out its operations hub. Another headquarters move into Willis Tower is ShopperTrak, a retail technology company. Other recently signed deals include companies like eTrade. 

Kazmierczak said that all of these recent developments speak to the building’s intensely creative management and ownership group continuing to provide the latest amenities. For example, the building recently made headlines for offering the city’s first bike valet program at a commercial building. This action builds on the innovative spirit inherent in other building investments like the introduction of Willis Tower Skydeck’s The Ledge, a signature Chicago visitor experience, which exceeded 1.6 million visitors last year.