Case Study
Cohen, Milstein, Sellers, & Toll PLLC

Background

Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, PLLC (CMST) is a Washington, D.C.-based law firm and one of the preeminent plaintiffs law firms in the country. Throughout the years, West, Lane & Schlager has helped CMST open offices in Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, London and Palm Beach. Facing a lease expiration at their 1100 New York Avenue, NW location, CMST retained WLS.

Challenge

The firm faced two major challenges with existing office space. The first was the need to dramatically reduce the overall costs of the firm, while maintaining a high-quality office environment that reflected the changing work environment of law firms. Secondly, CMST needed to develop a strategy to maximize their leverage in negotiations with the landlord and prospective alternative options. 

Solution

WLS developed a strategy to conduct a search of the market for viable alternatives while simultaneously beginning negotiations with the building owner, Manulife Financial. CMST leased 65,000 square feet in the building but determined they could accommodate the firm in just 50,000 square feet after completing our strategic planning process which includes a full space efficiency and programming analysis. After a thorough market search, four finalist alternatives were selected, which included remaining at their current location.  

 We initially retained WLS in 1992 when they represented us in our relocation to 1100 New York Avenue, then still considered a fringe area of DC’s business district. They have represented us in several lease renegotiations and expansions since then, and the area they had the foresight to see as ‘up and coming’ has become one of the most desirable in the city. WLS has also represented us in establishing multiple offices in several major cities throughout the U.S. 

Steven J. Toll, Managing Partner

Results

WLS led negotiations with each building in order to maximize leverage and ultimately, CMST reached terms with Manulife Financial for a new lease.

WLS secured a below market rental rate and concession package worth more than $6.5 million dollars including in tenant cash allowance to completely renovate the space. As a result of the space reduction alone, CMST lowered their annual rent by approximately $1 million. CMST redesigned their space taking advantage of a unique floor plate that had frontage on four streets as well as an atrium to reduce the size of attorney offices and maximize light into the space to increase their overall efficiency.

Key Contacts