Clifford Chance is planning to trim its New York office space by a fourth as it ditches palatial partner suites in favor of roomier shared areas.
The UK-founded firm will switch Midtown locations as it leaves a nearly 190,000-square-foot space at 31 West 52nd St. to move to 144,000 square feet at Two Manhattan West, a 58-story building set for completion at Ninth Avenue and West 31st Street early next year.
“Have you seen how large partner offices are?” Evan Cohen, the firm’s regional managing partner for the Americas, said in an interview. “We’re going to get rid of those, and the long hallways, and replace it with floor-to-ceiling glass windows.”
The changes, which will be implemented in 2024, are consistent with moves firms have been making after the start of the Covid pandemic to account for hybrid work practices and to make offices more inviting to workers.
“If people are coming in two days out of seven, there may not be a need for an assigned office,” Cohen said.
The firm plans to relocate about 500 employees from the Midtown office to the west side of Manhattan near the Hudson Yards development, where major rivals such as Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom and Cooley have already moved.
The concentration of firms, which also includes Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Boies Schiller Flexner and Debevoise & Plimpton, is a shift from years past when Big Law operations would avoid being neighbors with competitors.
Clifford Chance’s new location has atrium workplaces connected to landscaped terraces on each floor, city views and flexible office arrangements.
The firm is encouraging partners and counsel to come into the office three days a week and associates two days, Cohen said. Practice area leaders decide which days are office days, he said.
“There is a benefit to people coming into the office,” Cohen said, “and we want people to see benefits, like interacting with others.”