Lawyers who once wanted top quality office space at a top dollar are looking for a bargain and efficiency – at least in Baltimore where four of the city’s most venerable law firms are looking at moving.

Four of Baltimore City’s most venerable law firms are doing some deliberating of their own, weighing whether new offices would benefit their attorneys and their businesses.

Saul Ewing LLP, Semmes Bowen & Semmes, Tydings & Rosenberg LLP and Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP are all searching for new downtown locations, commercial real estate brokers said this week.

While the reasons for entering the real estate market differ, the firms underscore a trend in the legal community. Lawyers, once willing to pay top-dollar for pristine space, want a bargain and efficiency, too.

And with plenty of premier space in Baltimore’s central business district and beyond, rents are still on the lower end — giving law firms plenty of affordable real estate options without having to compromise their image.

These reasonably priced options are driving Tydings & Rosenberg LLP’s search for a new home. Situated on three floors at 100 E. Pratt St., the firm has arguably some of the nicest offices in Baltimore with expansive views overlooking the Inner Harbor.

But William C. Sammons, managing partner for Tydings & Rosenberg, said the firm wants to “reduce overhead.” Although Sammons did not discuss his actual rent, commercial real estate brokers said Tydings & Rosenberg is paying more than $35 a square foot for its roughly 37,000 square feet of space. That’s about $15 over the average asking rent of $20.12 a square foot for offices in the central business district.

With Tydings’ existing lease expiring in less than three years, Sammons believes now is the time to look for new space. “The market seems to be ripe these days for tenants,” he said.

The firm is considering 1 South St., 250 W. Pratt St. and possibly even its existing building — for the right deal. But, Tydings & Rosenberg is not necessarily interested in 500 E. Pratt St., downtown’s newest Class A office building overlooking the water, said Sam Murik, a senior vice president for Trammell Crow Co. in Washington, D.C.

Saul Ewing LLP, now at 100 S. Charles St., is also eager for new offices. Although the firm has more than seven years remaining on its existing lease, Saul Ewing is trying to sublease that space and set up shop elsewhere.

Like many other firms, Saul Ewing does not want to be spread out on several floors — instead hoping to consolidate some of its departments with a fresh, updated image.

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