Atlanta's Largest Law Firm Comes Out on Top with Strategic Cost Cutting

Since the economic downturn in 2008, large law firms all around the country have downsized office space as part of overall efforts to reduce operating costs. Firms in Atlanta are no exception and today continue to cut expenditures. Unable to forecast when business will pick up and return to levels seen in the mid-2000s, even the City's largest firms that have held on to business with longstanding clients are cautious to expand and sign on for more office space. The competitive advantage rests with firms that are able to marry low overhead with the best talent, as clients continue to reduce spending on legal counsel. In 2010, Atlanta's largest law firm, Alston & Bird LLC, began negotiations on an agreement to downsize the Firm's office space from 435,000 to 300,000 square feet. The reduction in space was structured so that the Firm's offices would relocate from space in two separate buildings at One Atlantic Center and Atlantic Center Plaza, to space in only One Atlantic Center. The developer Daniel Corp. was reported to have proposed construction of and relocation to a new office tower, but financing was difficult for the project and it was rejected. In the end, Hines Real Estate Investments, Inc, the owner of One Atlantic Center won the bid. Unwilling to give up its longtime client of 20 years to another building owner or developer, Hines offered Alston & Bird a winning deal that the Firm could not refuse. Alston & Bird LLP will complete the transition to the new office space at One Atlantic Center in 2012. The term of the new lease spans 18 years and the contract gives tenant improvement allowances of between $50 and $80 per square foot. Construction on the new space between the 35th and 50th floors will begin in 2011. With the reduction in office space under the new agreement, Alston & Bird stands to save between $10 and $20 million over the life of the loan. But the law firm isn't the only winner, since the agreement leaves One Atlantic Center at 90% occupancy. Not bad for Atlanta, that at 27% has the nation's highest in-town vacancy rate. It is now up to the deal's loser, Atlantic Center Plaza, to find tenants to fill the 200,000 square feet that will be left vacant by Alston & Bird. In 2010, Elaine M. Russell created www.LawSpaceMatch.com, a service that matches lawyers seeking to sublet space with unoccupied office space at compatible law firms around the country. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia. Elaine's office is located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. Notes: Taken from: Alston & Bird consolidates in move to One Atlantic

Effect on Stock Market

When one thinks of the stock market, their head becomes filled with corporations, interest rates and rises and falls in the economy. A new phenomenon sweeping throughout the Internet, however, is bringing a new meaning to "playing the stock market". These new markets, coined "prediction markets" allow users to buy stock pertaining to whether future real world events will occur or not. For example, a current hot market in the legal "subsection" is whether the Supreme Court will rule individual mandate to be unconstitutional before December 31st, 2012 at midnight. Predictions run at $5.00, and from current buying and selling of these stocks, a 50% chance of this happening has been generated. Thus, the people purchasing and selling these shares are creating the probability of the event occurring. Other hot topics include the potential leader of Libya at the end of the year and who will win this season's "American Idol". This system obviously will not directly effect whether individual mandating will be ruled unconstitutional, but it shows how the general public feels about the situation. Furthermore, since real money is being put down, these predictions represent an accurate portrayal of people's true feelings. This is simply because people would rather make money than lose it, and will seriously consider the possibility of an event actually occurring before purchasing "stocks" in it. How does this pertain to the everyday practice of a lawyer? Well it does not really now but this concept is still in its infant stages. Give it a few more years and who knows what kinds of real world questions people will be able to buy stocks in. All types of public cases brought to trial may be open to trading in this prediction market, and the probability statistics generated by buying and selling tendencies would prove to be very useful for each side to gauge where they stand in a given argument. Going further, these probabilities may demonstrate to lawyers how people feel about certain issues that they may encounter with clients, allowing them to shape their approach accordingly. Law Firms would most certainly see these probabilities as somewhat legitimate, as they reflect the view of the public, which is exactly the role a jury has in the court of law. This may sound slightly far-fetched and even ambiguous, but crazier things have certainly happened. After all, don't we all sit around sometimes and wonder where this increasingly interconnected world is taking us? Contributed by Merrick Pastore

The Need for Law Space Match

"Hold on". Two words that law students are having trouble digesting when it comes to searching for jobs. Getting into law school reflects the driven, self motivated, problem solving, and controlling aspects of a typical law student's personality. Hard work starting from grade school, to college, to the LSAT paid off when that coveted acceptance letter finally came in the mail. So why is hard work not paying off in this economy, as employer after employer tell students to "Hold on"? It's no secret that this country is in a recession. As the number of law school graduates increase and the market dwindles, it is no surprise that employers are halting the hiring process.

At school, the stress of finding an associate position doesn't wait until graduation, but it has slowly started creeping in as early as the first year. Recent emails from our school's student services read, "Other Career Opportunities Outside the Legal Field" and "Nonprofit Volunteer Opportunities in the Area". Recent speakers visiting the school from big firms promote the "emotional fulfillment" that volunteering provides. As the debt slowly surmounts to six figures, and the career opportunities, even for those top in the class, dwindle, it is no wonder that students break into a hot sweat every time they hear the words "Hold on". As a second year, Type "A" personality, for me the stress of a future job has lead to anxiety and sometimes even heart palpitations. After talking to a recent third year student, on law review and moot court, I decided that if she couldn't get a paying job out of law school, my chances were slim to none. As a self-proclaimed tax law geek, I have recently begun considering the idea of getting an L.L.M. in tax. Not only would a master's degree give me an edge in the mediocre job market, it would delay graduating for another year. With the economy slowly on the rise, hopefully by the time I enter the job field, there will be a position available for me. But if not, then sharing law space with other attorneys is a viable option. Atlanta law space is available.

For those future attorneys who either cringe at the idea of another year of law school, or are ready to enter the job field immediately after graduation, there is Law Space Match. Law Space Match is a way for students to network with local attorneys in the area. Not only can these attorneys provide insight and experience, but the chance to talk to attorneys in the area provides networking opportunities, contacts, job references and even job leads. The best part about Law Space Match, especially for law students, is that creating an attorney profile and initiating these contacts is free. As more and more employers tell us students to "Hold on" until the economy gets better, Law Space Match provides a forum for us to network with local attorneys in the area interested in helping us start a rewarding career. In the past, hard work has gotten us where we want to be, when we want to be there. Although the economy will eventually turn around, and hopefully lawyers will begin to prosper financially again, students are able to connect to the local legal community through Law Space Match as the current job market forces us to "Hold on". Contributed by: Natalie Lynn Fears

I Need a Job!

"I see all this potential, and I see squandering. . . . [D]amn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables--slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy stuff we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression.

Our Great War's a spiritual war . . . our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." --"Tyler Durden," 1999* "Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!" I had to say that for the Fight Club fans (great movie). Anyway, I've been job hunting for about four months now (procrastinators don't get the jobs folks), and the above quote came to mind after I spent this past weekend brooding over the terrible job economy once again. I may not share the same views as Brad Pitt's character (or was it technically Edward Norton's character), but I'm definitely on edge about the bleak job market for attorneys. Ok. Perhaps I'm jumping the shark, being overly dramatic, or simply being pessimistic, but my job hunt doesn't seem to be producing a whole lot at the current time. It can quickly turn into a depressing subject when you see other law students around you already getting jobs. Tack on the great job expectation that Law Review puts on your shoulders (that's right, yours truly is the Managing Editor of the school law review), and the lack of a job becomes even more of a burden.

Sometimes you can't help but feel like you're failing when you've worked so hard and have nothing to show for it. Don't get me wrong, I haven't given up hope or thrown in the towel. I'm still looking, and I know that more opportunities will become available the closer it gets to graduation. Still, there will constantly be this nagging voice in my head telling me that I should have a job by now, that I should be doing more to find a job, and that I need to work harder. I'll continue the job search, and I won't give up.

But, it would be nice to see some sign of potential job security in the near future. Or I may need to find law office space and think about going solo. *Fight Club (1999), available at http://www.imdb.com/title/ tt0137523/ quotes (last visited November 10, 2010). Contributed by Jody Sellers, a current 3L law student, who between his limited free time, writes reflective blogs offering insight into the law school experience.

Lawyers Avoid Ethical Issues While Office Sharing -Follow Proper Policy and Procedures

Many attorneys currently find themselves practicing law on their own after cutbacks by law firms all over the country. For these attorneys, office sharing provides distinct advantages. Solo-practitioners can improve their own branding by locating their office within an established law office. This strategy not only affords the solo-practitioner the opportunity to piggy-back off the image created by the established firm, but it also allows the attorney to reduce the costs that come with establishing a new practice. Law firms with excess space to rent benefit by sharing costs and both sides can improve revenue by offering clients a broader range of legal services under one roof. The tough economic climate has created an opportunity for all parties. But with this opportunity comes a certain level of risk. While sharing law office space is not forbidden under ethics rules, care must be taken to avoid potential conflicts. These conflicts revolve mainly around client confidentiality. Proper signage within the offices is required, so that clients can see that the practices are independently operated. Utilizing joint letterhead or listing unaffiliated attorneys on common signs can mislead clients regarding the association between lawyers in the office space. Additionally, telephone answering services should separately handle each practice. Fortunately, these items are easily managed. In fact, many low-tech and high-tech solutions are available to attorneys sharing space. For example, confidentiality can be ensured through the proper storage of client files. Keeping files separate and filing cabinets locked is a simple low-tech solution. Additionally, conversation with the client can be handled discretely by holding all face-to-face meetings behind closed doors, either in an individual office or a conference room. High-tech solutions can also be implemented. Electronic placards, easily updated for changes in personnel, can separately list attorneys in an office and phone systems can be customized to accommodate different users within the space. These types of simple solutions ensure that all parties follow ethical practices. Atlanta law space sharing is a viable option for reducing costs and is efficient. Law firms are now seeking attorneys desiring shared space: "Come share our fully furnished office space in Downtown Atlanta with a great view of Peachtree Street!", noted by a small AV-Rated Law Firm located in the well-known Candler Building. We have one large partner's office available to sublet as well as another office with space for support staff. For instance, quality commercial office space in Downtown Atlanta can be tough to find but we're here to help. This option is highly flexible so you can usually rent as much or as little space as you need to suit your needs. Privacy for each subletting lawyer and for confidential information of clients may be maintained by thinking through the practicalities of your everyday law practice. Downtown Atlanta cubicle space is the workspace option for you if you want to save money on office costs. In 2010, Elaine M. Russell created www.LawSpaceMatch.com, a service that matches lawyers seeking to sublet space with unoccupied office space at compatible law firms around the country. This law office space and other Atlanta be veiwed at www.lawspacematch.com. Elaine M. Russell is a corporate and business attorney representing clients throughout Georgia. Elaine's office is located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.

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