The Ithaca branch of law firm Coughlin and Gerhart has moved to the West End at 798 Cascadilla St. as part of its plan to consolidate offices. Previously, the firm operated three offices around the city, which complicated operations for its attorneys, as the lawyers were unable to collaborate if a client had multiple issues with several different parts of the law.
Mark Gorgos, a managing partner at Coughlin and Gerhart’s Binghamton office, determined this was a necessary moving after noticing a lack of efficiency.
“[Y]ou lose a lot of synergies when you do that,” Gorgos said. “We had leases that weren’t necessarily ending on the same date, so we had to wait for those lease periods to become co-terminus. That finally happened in 2019, and it was something we’d been planning for a while. Now, here we are and it’s been an exciting 120 days.”
Coughlin and Gerhart is organized into six practice groups: business and banking law, labor and employment law, litigation, public law, real estate, and trusts and estates. Although there isn’t a lawyer at the Ithaca branch for certain parts of the law, the larger Binghamton office is able to collaborate with Ithaca’s branch regularly.
“We don’t have an attorney here that specializes in labor law, but we’ve got four attornies there that do that,” Gorgos said. “We can bring the expertise of our larger office here to Ithaca. We do that all the time. We bring attornies up from the Binghamton office that specializes in legal matters that are covered by one of the resident attorneys here. It’s really the best of both worlds for the client.”
A major reason for acquiring the spaces was to be a part of the rising development of Ithaca’s West End. One issue it did encounter in deciding on a new office was parking, which can often be a problem.
“Parking is primo,” Gorgos said. “That was the number one priority. That kind of drove our office search. There were some beautiful office spaces that had one or two parking places. That means clients are parking somewhere two blocks down the road or on the fourth floor of the parking garage. And, that might be okay in July, that just does not work well for an 85-year-old client.”
Another challenge Coughlin and Gerhart faced was time, mostly due to a compressed construction schedule. The contractors only had 120 days to build the new space. With a seemingly impossible time schedule in place, there was skepticism over whether or not the project would be completed and the site is still somewhat incomplete. The firm is still meeting with the City of Ithaca’s building department over signage. At this point, though, the construction will be completed in over two weeks.