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Case Study

79 Wellington Street West, Toronto

Changing Business of Law and Effect on Workplace

Challenge: The first challenge was the scarcity of existing building options. At 3%, the Toronto CBD office market has the lowest vacancy in North America. In addition, new construction timelines could barely meet the existing lease expiry date, creating significant risk. Big law firms are under pressure in a way that they have not been before. With clients questioning a fee model that has been in place for years, these firms are feeling pressure to increase their own efficiency and effectiveness; their associates are questioning the historical Cravath System as they search for a more fulfilling work/life balance than has traditionally been part of a career at a big law firm and new competitors are popping up in unlikely and unexpected places.

Strategy: Colliers’ team orchestrated an RFI, followed by an RFP for architectural services and went outside the local market to search for international experience. The Colliers team wrote and submitted an RFI to ten firms and settled on five for RFPs, including Canadian, U.S. and Australian firms identified as thought leaders in the field. In the end, Torys retained interior architects, engaging the New York design team because of their specialized knowledge and expertise in law firm design but also because of their ability to transfer experience from other tech and innovation client projects —the sector leading collaborative workplace environments.

After extensive qualitative and quantitative comparison, the partnership decided to proceed with a five-year renewal to allow time for further exploration and testing of design before committing to a new workplace solution.

Result: The results included a five-year renewal of the lease negotiated for 185,000 SF. The results of the design exploration will be built out and tested on a quarter of a floor, with practice groups rotating through the space for the next two years.


Law Firm Benchmarking Study, Needs Analysis, Design Procurement, Operating Cost Benchmarking, Sustainability Advisory, Lease Transaction Management and Project Management.