‘Evil Wall Street’ Giving Lawyers with Downtown Manhattan Office Space Unlikely Boost in Prestige

By Law Firm Suites - June 7, 2016
‘Evil Wall Street’ Giving Lawyers with Downtown Manhattan Office Space Unlikely Boost in Prestige

Increased awareness from pervasive political rhetoric is creating an impression that downtown Manhattan is a place where serious firms do serious business.

In the five most recent televised debates between Democratic presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, “Wall Street” was mentioned an average of 25.4 times per debate. Nearly every mention was negative.

The message being spun by the political left is that “Wall Street”, the symbol for the American financial services industry, benefits from a rigged system that exploits ordinary Americans.

Whether or not you buy into this narrative, the relentless chatter has unintentionally benefited small firm lawyers with downtown Manhattan office space: it’s giving them a boost in prestige.

Expansive news coverage increases awareness about downtown Manhattan.

Politicians and special interests continue to use the Financial District neighborhood as a symbol for what they deem to be a rapacious financial services industry. But the irony is that, for years, financial services firms have been moving north to Midtown neighborhoods.

Downtown Manhattan office space once occupied by financial firms is being taken over by a growing number of law firms, technology and media companies.

While the Financial District may have shed it’s financial services image among real estate professionals and downtown tenants, the same can’t be said for the average legal consumer.

The sheer frequency of the “Evil Wall Street” rhetoric, and the breadth of news coverage on the presidential election and demonstrations like Occupy Wall Street, has created an awareness about Manhattan’s Financial District that extends far beyond the New York Metro area.

The unrelenting rhetoric seems to reinforce a message with the general public that Manhattan’s Financial District is a place where serious firms do serious business, and small law firms in the area stand to benefit from the boost in prestige.

What do legal consumers really think?

To test our theory, we conducted an informal survey using Facebook and Quora (a website where questions are answered by its community of users).

We asked the following question:  

“If you were hiring a lawyer in NYC, would you be impressed that their office was in the Financial District versus another Manhattan neighborhood?”

Downtown Manhattan Office Space

Of all the responses we received, no one associated the lawyers in the neighborhood with the “evilness” suggested by the political rhetoric.

Many of the responses we received were neutral. These participants were more concerned with attorneys’ skills rather than the location of their office.

This includes Yonkers resident, Lisa Jackson, who indicated on Facebook that she would hire an attorney “as long as they could get the job done.”

Similarly, New York strategic consultant David Friedman said, “if I am hiring a lawyer I would do so because of his or her firm’s ability to do the work, not their location.”

Other participants, like Richard Rae from Brooklyn, drew an analogy to the medical profession. According to Rae, some people believe a certain address means a more skilled doctor, which he disagreed with.

NYC apartment broker Ronnie “Hats” Shumake expressed a sentiment similar to Rae, “this is NYC, some people get caught up in the sizzle, I want the steak.”

Downtown Manhattan law offices perceived by some as prestigious.

While most comments to our survey were neutral, some people were very impressed by a lawyer having a Downtown office.

Washington Heights resident Tony W. was included in this group. “I would be more impressed and confident with them [my lawyer] being close to the power of Wall Street,” said Tony. “I would think my lawyer would have to work that much harder for my case.”

Interestingly, some participants had the impression that downtown Manhattan office space was “expensive” as compared to other Manhattan neighborhoods.

This response was consistent among participants who reside outside of the New York Metro area. For example, Maine financial services attorney Adam Nyhan wrote on Quora, “you’re paying an enormous premium for commercial real estate there [in the Financial District].”

While rents have increased precipitously over the past few years, the fact remains, Financial District office space is still 30% to 50% less expensive than comparable space in Midtown or Union Square. It continues to be the most affordable neighborhood in Manhattan to rent office space.

We believe the frequency and breadth of the political rhetoric has contributed to this misconception.

downtown manhattan office space

Does expensive equal prestigious?

The perception that Financial district office space is more expensive than other Manhattan neighborhoods was a negative for some participants, who expressed concerns about the affordability of lawyers with offices there.

But for other participants like Tony W., the misconception about expense was associated more with prestige, making downtown office space an even better value for lawyers with clients like Tony.

Even Adam Nyhan, the attorney from Maine who expressed concerns about the expense of the neighborhood, also associated the Financial District with prestige.

This misconception about cost may be a particular boon for out-of-town firms looking to elevate their prestige with a Manhattan office presence.  For those firms, an office downtown may give the impression that they are playing a really big game, but for a much lower cost than any other neighborhood in the city. An Insider's Guide: How to Rent the Perfect Law Office

About Law Firm Suites

Law Firm Suites is the leading NYC shared office space for solo attorneys and small law firms. At Law Firm Suites, attorneys get headache free sublet office space, virtual office rentals and litigation hotel services. Law Firm Suites has two locations in Manhattan, one in White Plains NY, and one in Annapolis MD. Law Firm Suites' community of self-employed lawyers are eager to help colleagues succeed, and routinely exchange over $2.5 million in legal business every year in each LFS business center. Connect with Law Firm Suites on Twitter and .

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