Firm mergers & the economy

December 4, 2008
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Looks like Locke Reynolds answered the question I posed in a blog from October.

Locke confirmed they are merging with Louisville-Cincinnati firm Frost Brown Todd and taking that firm’s name. This is the second merger a large Indianapolis firm has undertaken this year. In May, Sommer Barnard became Taft Stettinitus & Hollister.

Plus, the Indianapolis Business Journal has reported that Ice Miller is set to merge with Louisville firm Greenebaum Doll & McDonald. Which firm could be next?

Law firms in Indianapolis claim the economy isn’t that bad right now and they aren’t experiencing the issues that the big firms in larger cities like Chicago or New York are facing.

We hear about things happening at law firms – whether it’s staff layoffs, merger discussions, or trimming summer associate positions – but when we try to confirm these things with firms, we get a denial, a “no comment”, or no response at all. Firms have no problem calling us or reaching out to us when they want us to know about a new practice group they’ve created or that a partner has been selected for a committee with a charitable group.

Can the Indiana legal community still say that its not being affected by this current economy now that we’ve got at least two large firms that have merged with out-of-state firms this year? That’s not even taking into account the smaller firms around the state that have joined forces in the last year. Is our legal community in denial, or are these mergers not an indicator that Indiana’s legal community is struggling and firms are looking to remain indispensable?
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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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