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Manchester Is The U.K.'s Busiest Legal Services Market

Manchester skyline with City Tower Centre
Schroder's City Tower and the Manchester skyline

The need to secure cool, talent-attracting modern workspace is driving law firms to expand faster in Manchester than any other regional city and at more than twice the rate of Central London, according to new research by property agent Knight Frank.

The Knight Frank Legal Sector Report found Manchester recorded the highest legal services sector office take-up by square footage across all U.K. regional cities at 155K SF during 2017. It said the workplace revolution explains the surge.

Three of the 10 largest legal deals in 2017 were in Manchester, and the sector accounted for 13% of total annual take-up in the city, more than double the figure for Central London.

Bristol also performed well, but the traditionally strong Leeds legal scene claimed just one of the top 10 regional deals.

“Manchester’s law firms are at the forefront of making significant transformations to the way they operate in the face of more disruptive forces," Knight Frank Office Agency Partner Mark Bamber said. “Law firms are using real estate as a strategic tool to attract talent, drive cultural change and increase innovation."

“There were also 40 law firm M&A deals in 2017 resulting in multiple regional office relocations which drives the markets in regional cities."

Top 10 regional legal services office transactions 2017

1. Manchester, Royal Exchange Clyde & Co: 69K SF

2. Bristol, Finzels Reach Simmons & Simmons: 27K SF

3. Birmingham, The Colmore Building Hogan Lovells: 23K SF

4. Leeds, 1 Apex View BW Legal: 22K SF

5. Manchester, No. 1 Spinningfields Weightmans: 18K SF

6. Sheffield, Courtwood House Graysons: 17K SF

7. Manchester, 3 Hardman St. JMW: 14K SF

8. Aberdeen, 28 Albyn Place Stronachs: 14K SF

9. Bristol, Templeback Jordans Solicitors: 14K SF

10. Bristol, Aurora, Finzels Reach Mewburn Ellis: 13K SF