Another Big Firm Flees the Financial District

Goodwin Procter LLP is headed for the waterfront. No surprise here.

On Wednesday, Boston’s second-largest law firm, Goodwin Procter LLP said it will move its offices from State Street to Fan Pier, a $3 billion, 23-acre development on the waterfront that is eventually expected to host hotels, parks, shops, restaurants, and, of course, office buildings.

This should hardly be considered a surprise. As Paul McMorrow wrote in this month’s issue, hordes of law firms and financial institutions are abandoning their perch in search of a more vivacious neighborhood to call home. Amenities such as boutiques and bars are what workers crave, and waterfront developers such as Joseph Fallon, who is behind the Goodwin project, are promising to deliver. Boston’s largest law firm, Ropes & Gray, deserted International Place for its new home in Back Bay, while Foley Hoag and Nutter McClennen & Fish have already made the move to the Seaport.

The Financial District is a Dust Bowl. There’s no shopping, restaurants or mid-day diversions to keep today’s white-collar workers sane. Bankers and lawyers have no choice but to stare balefully out of tall buildings from inside their cubical before scrambling down to their cars at the end of the day and driving home to civilization as fast as possible.

According to the Boston Globe, Goodwin Procter has signed a letter of intent to move into a 17-story, 500,000 square foot building next to the Institute of Contemporary Art overlooking the water. The law firm’s current lease at 53 State St. will expire in 2016.

This mass exodus of workers would be yet another sign that the Financial District is doomed. Or as McMorrow put it, that “all this waterfront love has made the Financial District feel even older, darker, and closer to death.”

You can almost hear the rustle of tumbleweeds along Congress and Pearl.