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HOUSTON-The law firm of Powers & Frost LLP has renewed and expanded a lease for 1 Houston Center, a 46-story office building along McKinney Street in the CBD. The firm will backfill part of the 139,000 sf of office space emptied by Ernst & Young in its move to 5 Houston Center.

Powers & Frost added 16,138 sf to its 30,902-sf lease in the 1.1-million-sf building. The firm had been a tenant for seven years, a Crescent Real Estate Equities spokeswoman tells GlobeSt.com. The civil litigation firm specializes in toxic torts, first party insurance fraud, asbestos personal injury, sexual harassment and discrimination and medical malpractice.

Debbie Wilson, vice president of leasing at Houston Center, represented the building owner, Crescent Real Estate Equities LP. The tenant cut the deal without a broker.

Other industries are struggling right now, but law firms are rapidly expanding and buffering CBD markets in Houston as well as New York City and Dallas, according to a third-quarter analysis by Sanford Criner, principal at Houston’s Trione & Gordon. Similar moves have been made by Jones Day’s Houston office, which has taken 53,000 sf in the under-construction Calpine Tower and 80,000 sf in recent leases to law firms for the Bank of America Tower.

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