500 North Capitol Street (click to enlarge).

One of our odd obsessions around here: real estate. Just take a spin through our Lawyerly Lairs archives, which chronicle the adventures of attorneys in the world of real property, residential and commercial. We may not be as real obsessed as the folks over at Curbed, but we’re getting there.

As a former resident of Washington (2006 to 2008), I take a particular interest in D.C. developments. And not just litigation between law firms and burger joints.

So I was interested to learn about McDermott Will & Emery’s big move — to a building that will be named after the law firm. How many law firms get naming rights?

(Not many. The most prominent example might be the Paul Hastings Tower in Los Angeles, which had a cameo in the Transformers movie.)

News of MWE’s move even made the pages of the Washington Post….

Reports the Post:

McDermott Will & Emery has decided to leave its downtown home a few blocks from the White House and signed a letter of intent to relocate in November 2012 to a renovated, glass-covered structure in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol dome.

The Chicago-origin firm, which employs 220 attorneys and 190 staff in the District, will be the primary tenant in what will be known as the McDermott Building, initially leasing 165,000 of the 235,000 square feet in the structure, with the option to take on more.

That’s some sizable space — but, interestingly enough, it’s smaller than McDermott’s current digs. According to the Blog of Legal Times, MWE currently occupies about 189,000 square feet at 600 13th St. NW. But the decrease in square footage won’t be a problem, due to layoffs “new technology and changing secretary-to-lawyer ratios,” according to the WaPo.

Being able to dub the building “The McDermott Building” was a major selling point. MWE partner Bobby Burchfield told the BLT:

These days, it’s important for firms to differentiate themselves from their competitors. We really liked the idea of moving to a highly trafficked location where people who pass by our building will necessarily think of McDermott Will & Emery.

But will that many potential clients walk past the building? Unlike its current location, not far from the White House, McDermott’s new neighborhood is a bit of a no man’s land. When I lived in D.C., I went to that part of town mainly for doctor’s visits. (Kaiser Permanente has a big facility a few blocks north.)

It is, however, close to various government institutions. As Burchfield told the Post, “This location is a very ‘Washington’ location for a law firm. It’s within walking distance of the Supreme Court, the federal courthouse, the tax court, the SEC. It’s very convenient for many of the practices that we have.”

And green people and fitness buffs will also be pleased. From Citybizlist:

[The building is] being designed to achieve LEED Certification through the US Green Building Council.

The building will incorporate many “custom” features for McDermott, including a top floor conference center with views of the U.S. Capitol, roof top terrace with a 360 degree, panoramic view of the DC landscape, a fitness center, and a ground floor plaza area.

A fitness center! Just like Skadden’s D.C. offices (where Skadden is remaining, by the way; that City Center deal fell through).

And the roof terrace sounds lovely too. Will McDermott install a rooftop bocce court, a la Venable?

McDermott Will & Emery moving to building near U.S. Capitol [Washington Post]
McDermott Signs LOI to Move HQ to 500 North Capitol St [Citybizlist]
McDermott Set to Move to Capitol Hill in 2012 [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]


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