The Hamptons gets its first global law firm as workplace expectations shift

Hurricane Henri preparations in the Hamptons
Residents and holiday makers in the Hamptons, August 21, 2021. REUTERS/Leela de Kretser
  • Greenberg Traurig opens two Long Island outposts
  • Law firms rethinking office needs, locations

(Reuters) - Some big-firm lawyers spending time in the Hamptons this summer won't have to go far to get to the office.

Greenberg Traurig this week said it's become the first global law firm with offices on Long Island, home to some of the firm's lawyers and high-end investment fund clients, opening an outpost in the tony hamlet of Bridgehampton and another just east of Queens.

"People have turned their homes into their offices. At some point, it’s going to get old," said Greenberg Traurig executive chairman Richard Rosenbaum, adding the move shaves commutes and allows the firm to shrink its pricey Manhattan footprint.

Rosenbaum did not say whether he has a home in the Hamptons himself, and a representative for the Miami-founded firm declined to comment on the question. Rosenbaum said he would spend time in the firm's new offices.

The 2,400-lawyer firm is joining a small but growing number of large U.S. law firms that are rethinking their approaches to office work and their real estate needs during an unyielding pandemic and a hot talent war.

"Firms are looking outside of their traditional boundaries," said Marcie Borgal Shunk, president of law firm consultancy The Tilt Institute.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan last month said it will now allow all U.S. lawyers, including first-year associates, to work from anywhere in the country indefinitely. It cited attorney recruitment as a key factor in the decision.

Other law firms have embraced a hybrid approach. In July 2020, U.S. law firm Husch Blackwell launched a virtual "office" with 50 lawyers and staff. Since then, the office has grown to 321 employees, including 99 lawyers, said J.Y. Miller, its managing partner.

Such moves may offer both a recruiting edge and savings on real estate costs – one of the industry's greatest overhead expenses. Rosenbaum said Greenberg Traurig reduced its space in the new One Vanderbilt building in Manhattan by 25% as part of its Long Island plan.

"It was a decision that allowed us to not take a full floor in a very expensive building," Rosenbaum said.

The firm's new Bridgehampton and Garden City offices will host new and existing attorneys, including Mark Lesko, a former acting Brooklyn U.S. attorney who is joining the firm in the Hamptons location. Each of the Long Island offices is starting with three shareholders, but Rosenbaum said he expects those numbers to grow.

Greenberg Traurig also has offices in the region in Westchester County and northern New Jersey, and Rosenbaum said it might consider mimicking its satellite office approach outside other large markets like Chicago. But he also called Long Island a special case.

"You know, there’s only one Hamptons," he said.

Read more:

The legal talent war that broke out in 2021 shows no sign of slowing down

Quinn Emanuel tells U.S. lawyers they can work from anywhere, forever

Husch gives virtual office high marks after 3 months: 'This is definitely going to be a trend'

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.