When Knobbe Martens’ lease expired at the Carmel Valley offices they had been leasing, the law firm didn’t stray far in relocating.
They moved to a nearby building that had been used by another law firm at 3579 Valley Centre Drive in Del Mar Heights.
“We’re an IP (Intellectual Property) law firm and all the IP law firms are here,” said Michael Fuller, managing partner in Knobbe Marten’s San Diego office.
“In looking around, it’s just very convenient for our staff. Almost everybody lives up here, almost all of our clients are up here compared to downtown,” Fuller said.
Before moving in, the firm spent nearly $3.5 million remodeling their new space with designs provided by ID Studios based in Solana Beach.
Pacific Building Group headquartered in Mira Mesa was the general contractor.
Butch Miller, senior superintendent at Pacific Building Group, said the goal was to blend some of the existing office’s architectural features with new modern features.
“We were going for a modern approach while still maintaining a more comfortable and welcoming aesthetic,” said Meagen Curry, a project manager and senior designer with ID Studios.
“As we talked about style, we talked about how their law firm is really welcoming,” Curry said. “Our color palette was really inspired from the lakes of the Midwest, a lot of natural wood tones.”
Fuller said a staff of about 130, including about 50 lawyers, will work out of the 50,000 square feet Knobbe Martens has in Del Mar Heights – about the same amount of space that the firm had in Carmel Valley.
The firm signed a 10-year lease on the property.
Room to Grow
The renovation was extensive on the first floor of the building, while work on the second and third floors kept the footprint that was in place but updated the look of the second and third floors.
“We gutted the whole half of the first floor and we put in a very large conference center,” Fuller said. “The other half of the first floor, we rebuilt it completely to be a small stand-alone suite which we’re currently going to sublease it if we can. We’ve got about six offices, a kitchen and cubicles.”
The 3,977 square-foot conference center opens out onto a 1,636 square-foot patio that is covered by two steel trellises.
Fuller said Knobbe Martens could eventually take the entire first floor of the building as the firm grows.
“Our growth is limited by the number of candidates I can find,” Fuller said. “There’s no shortage of innovation companies to keep us busy. If you look at the companies that were very, very busy throughout all of this (pandemic), they’re the biotech firms, Illumina, companies like that have been doing very, very well.”
A Little Loving
Less renovation was required on the second and third floors of Knobbe Martens’ new home because the prior tenant was a law firm.
“They were generally set up the way we wanted it set up for us,” Fuller said. “This was a refresh of an older office that needed some loving.”
The general layout of the top floors has private offices along the perimeter with room for paralegals and other employees toward the center.
“We reconfigured some of the conference rooms. We redid all the technology because it was all tired,” Fuller said. “Our conference rooms are set up for one-button access to Zoom.”
Also added was a new security system that functions through smart phones so people no longer need key cards to enter.
“That’s great because you don’t have to carry around a separate card and if someone else wants to come in, we don’t have to physically get them a card. We can just send them an ap.”
So far, the new offices are nearly vacant because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are maybe 10 of us that come in every day. Everyone else is remote,” Fuller said. “We’re going to come in in September. We’re hoping to have everyone back.”
On the construction and design end, Curry said COVID had little effect on the project other than to serve as a teaching tool for working remotely.
Managing Partner San Diego: Michael Fuller
Business: intellectual property law firm
Revenue: $72 million
San Diego Employees: 130