Bucking the trend of firms moving east in the District, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, an international law firm with about 60 attorneys in the city, next year will move eight blocks west to 2099 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, space recently occupied by Holland & Knight.

Like most law firms that have moved in the past couple of years, Sheppard Mullin, which signed the new lease in March, will reduce its physical footprint from about 64,000 square feet to 58,000 square feet. But it will increase the number of offices to 90 from 70, said Lucantonio Salvi, co-managing partner of the firm’s Washington office. The firm will be the anchor tenant at the building at 21st and Pennsylvania, and occupy two-and-a-half floors, with the option to expand.

Sheppard Mullin’s current office, which has about 110 employees, is at 1300 I St. NW, by McPherson Square.

The move is among a flurry of recent and upcoming real estate moves by major law firms, which are considered sought-after tenants because of the sheer size of their workforce and the relative stability of the legal industry. In the past 24 months, Squire Sanders, Vinson & Elkins, Hunton & Williams, Arent Fox, Holland & Knight, McDermott Will & Emery, and Cooley have relocated in the city. Covington & Burling intends to move to CityCenterDC by 2014.

The move west, Salvi said, was “partly by design and partly by circumstance.”

“My lawyers and staff were interested in moving west because it’s more convenient for people living in Northern Virginia or Maryland,” he said. “We looked at a lot of places all over the city. There were many attractive places on the east side, but we found an opportunity that at first was a stretch to contemplate, but it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for us.”