Move to new ways of working and focus on ESG leads to office relocations for more law firms

February 12, 2024

Three Bristol law firms are celebrating new office moves as the sector continues to look to hybrid working and high-quality sustainable space as key to recruitment and retention.

The latest firms to join the long list of relocations in the city are international law firm DAC Beachcroft, national firm Clarke Willmott and Bristol-based Barcan+Kirby.

DAC has leased 44,196 sq ft in the new Welcome Building (formerly 4 Glass Wharf), pictured, at Temple Quarter as the new base for its 800-plus Bristol lawyers and staff in the region currently based in Portwall Place.

Meanwhile Clarke Willmott has completed the relocation of its 300-plus Bristol staff into its new city base at Assembly Building C on Cheese Lane from its former office in Bath Street,

Barcan+Kirby has also moved into its new 3,599 sq ft office suite in Prince House, Prince Street – a stone’s throw from its previous base in Queen Square.

All three firms are stressing the importance of their new space for staff retention and recruitment while also addressing new ways of working that were accelerated by the Covid pandemic and its shift to working from home.

The relocations are also aimed at meeting the firms’ commitment to ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues.

DAC, which is taking levels six and seven of the 207,000 sq ft landmark Welcome Building ahead of its completion after Easter, said providing its employees with a high-quality working environment that supported flexible working and collaboration was a priority.

Bristol location head Ben Daniels added: “Welcome Building is ideally located with great travel links and adaptable working spaces.

“We were also impressed by the building’s excellent sustainability credentials and its emphasis on creating a local community.”

Developed through a joint venture between EPISO 5, a fund managed by Tristan Capital Partners, and Trammell Crow Company, and designed by Darling Associates Architects, the all-electric building is aiming for optimal energy efficiency as well as its commitment to create a healthy environment for those working there.

It will be the first Bristol office development to target Well Platinum Certification, alongside BREEAM Outstanding and Five at Heart Platinum, will have rooftop PV cells and be connected to Bristol’s pioneering heat network, which is delivering low-carbon heat and energy to city centre buildings.

Clarke Willmott, which has taken occupation of the top two floors – 15,624 sq ft in total – of the new 11-storey Assembly C building, also said its move would play a vital role in its commitment to sustainability as well as supporting its changed way of working.

The building, which is also linked to the Bristol Heat Network, has an energy efficiency rating of A, helping deliver on Clarke Willmott’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2040.

The office is designed for hybrid working, accommodating remote and in-person working, as well as featuring more collaboration spaces, including a client suite and business lounge, a communal kitchen, quiet zones and meeting rooms.

Clarke Willmott CEO Peter Swinburn said: “We now have a space that offers the very best experience for clients and colleagues at a scale that supports our successful blend of in-person and remote working.

“Furthermore, the building’s design aligns with our ESG goals, including reaching net zero by 2040.

“As the firm marks its 135th anniversary, our new Bristol home is a true reflection of our commitment to honouring the past while building for the future.”

Barcan+Kirby’s decision to relocate stemmed from a need to consolidate its commercial teams, previously spread across two locations.

The newly designed 3,599 sq ft office space was geared towards fostering collaboration, it said, with more meeting rooms and breakout areas.

In line with the firm’s growth aspirations, particularly in the commercial sector, it also allows for future expansion while having space for corporate and internal events.

Five-storey, 18,261 sq ft Prince House has been comprehensively refurbished by landlord Rowe Estates to provide a range of quality features, including comfort cooling, improved LED lighting, double glazing and showers.

Barcan+Kirby, which was formed in 2015 after a series of mergers between a number of smaller law firms, has five high-street offices across Bristol and South Gloucestershire providing individuals and businesses with high-quality, professional legal advice.

Managing Partner Bill Willcocks said: “We are thrilled to have relocated to Prince House, bringing our commercial team together in our new city centre office.

“We look forward to welcoming clients into the new space.”

Morton Property Consultants acted for Clarke Willmott on its relocation. Knight Frank and Alder King are leasing agents for Welcome Building. Alder King is marketing Prince House while Burston Cook acted for Barcan+Kirby.

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