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LOS ANGELES-One of nation’s largest law firms has signed a $40-million lease on the Westside, helping to breathe new life into a market that spent the first half of the year seemingly gasping for air.

The tenant is Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, whose nearly 300 attorneys represent some of the largest real estate developers and Fortune 500 companies around the world. Under terms of the 12-year deal, the law firm will not only keep the 127,000 sf of space it currently occupies at Trident Center in West LA but sublet an additional 73,000 sf from New York-based Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.

The two-building, 350,000-sf Trident Center stands in the 11300 block of West Olympic Blvd. Earlier this year, MetLife announced it would leave the complex after signing a deal for 15,092 sf at Douglas Emmett Co.’s Wilshire Landmark II project a few miles away.

Marty Barkan, Serge Vishmid & Bruce Kaufer of Grubb & Ellis Co.’s West LA office represented MetLife in the sublet to Manatt, Phelps. They were assisted by Michael Hobbs of the brokerage firm’s Corporate Services Group. The law firm represented itself.

Manatt, Phelps will expand into the former MetLife space after tenant improvements are completed, Grubb & Ellis broker Barkan says. When the dust settles, the law firm will occupy the entire 11355 West Olympic building and two floors of the 11377 tower.

The $40-million deal is another sign that the tech-heavy Westside market may be rebounding after suffering a first-half slowdown triggered by the dot-com bust and weakening economy. A handful of relatively large leases have been signed in the area in recent weeks, while Santa Monica-based Douglas Emmett and San Jose-headquartered DivcoWest Properties are expected to soon announce that Douglas Emmett has purchased the 1901 Avenue of the Stars building in Century City that DivcoWest acquired a few years ago for about $155 million.

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