ILNews

From Indy, Ogletree Deakins goes global

Dave Stafford
December 5, 2012
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Kim Ebert can see about as far as anyone in Indiana from his perch on the 46th floor of the Chase Tower in Indianapolis, but the Ogletree Deakins P.C. managing shareholder’s vision is on far more distant horizons.

Ogletree this month joined the short but influential list of firms doing business in Indianapolis that also have branded international offices. A Berlin office opened Dec. 1 with a staff of seven attorneys, and the London office of four barristers should open by year’s end, pending regulatory approval.
 

ebert-kim-15col.jpg Kim Ebert (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The firm represents companies from Fortune 50 giants to small, privately held companies. In announcing its international strategy, Ogletree said it will be the only U.S.-based boutique labor and employment firm with offices in Europe.

“We have come to the conclusion in discussions with our clients generally that there was some dissatisfaction with the offerings out there,” Ebert said in a recent interview. “We think the time is right to present an alternative.”

“A lot of our clients were telling us they feel like they’re paying a lot of money to international lawyers and they’re not providing the level of service they expect,” he said.

“We have all types of systems in place to make sure quality is consistent throughout.”

As managing shareholder, Ebert directed the development of overseas operations for Atlanta-based Ogletree, which opened its Indianapolis office in 2000. “The role I played first of all was to support the strategy of the international expansion, and then to help with the recruitment of the right lawyers to support the strategy,” he said.
 

castille Castille

“In labor and employment law, you find that when you have economic turmoil, there’s a lot of work for lawyers,” Ebert said.

The first offices opening across the Atlantic signal the beginning of a broader expansion that will continue next year. Ebert said Ogletree Deakins’ international growth is proceeding at a disciplined pace, and the firm knows the local attorneys it is hiring.

“We’ve had an opportunity to see how they handled work we’ve partnered up on them with,” he said.

As an example of the caliber of representation the firm hopes to extend, Ebert named Michael Webster, who will lead the London office. The founder and former joint managing partner of Webster Dixon LLP serves clients that include the second-largest bank in Nigeria, Ebert said.

An attorney in the Berlin office, for instance, represents Deutsche Bahn, the national railroad of Germany. The Berlin attorneys come from the firm of Salans LLP.

After the Berlin and London offices open, the firm anticipates establishing a branch in China. Ebert said that if approvals come as expected, that office could open within six months. Other offices likely will be opened in France and in Eastern Europe. The expansion strategy looks for possible locations in nations with stable economies, Ebert said, noting that Ogletree handled matters in more than 100 countries last year.

“There is no question that today we all operate in a global marketplace,” he said. “Our strategy is to provide international representation that is focused on value and first-class client service.”

From Indiana to Beijing

Among the handful of firms that have Indiana offices and branded offices in other nations is Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, which has the distinction of being the lone homegrown firm to have accomplished the feat. Predecessor Baker & Daniels opened its Beijing office shortly after China opened its market to foreign investment in the 1990s.

Angella Castille is partner and co-chair of Faegre Baker Daniels’ international practice group in the U.S.

“Most of our clients have long been global and had to be global,” she said. Representative clients include Bridgestone/Firestone, Jasper-based furniture and electronics manufacturer Kimball International, and Indianapolis-based software and machining developer Hurco Companies Inc. Faegre has helped with matters such as international material sourcing, production and distribution issues, and more.

Representing clients with international interests, Castille said, “It’s hard for me to understand how you could practice law without doing business in international work.”

When Faegre Baker Daniels formed, the firm could offer clients access to attorneys in Beijing, Shanghai and London.

“Our original reason for being in international locations could very well have to do with having a client who needed a source for parts and components,” Castille said. “As they become more familiar with doing business overseas, they start to see their own products may do very well overseas. … It evolves.”

Attorneys say London offices provide common language and access to European markets, because most U.K. attorneys have an understanding of common European Union law as well as the codes of other nations within the European community.

In China, the legal terrain is far different. Firm representatives said that American and international lawyers may open offices in Beijing or Shanghai, but in order to practice in court, an attorney must work for a Chinese-based firm.

Even when a firm doesn’t have a branded office overseas, its connections with international attorneys can open doors. Linda Dawson is an Anderson-based economic development consultant who’s working with Barnes & Thornburg LLP as director of Asian projects for Grant County.

“It is crucial to deal with firms that have overseas offices or relationships plus experience in related areas,” Dawson said. “This is especially true in China, where there is great apprehension of our legal system and regulations. The ability to communicate in their native language and understand the unique business culture that exists in Asia will help alleviate their unreasonable concerns.”

Benesch is another law firm with Indianapolis offices that has a presence in China.

“We had clients in the U.S. interested in doing business in China, and while we could have probably found Chinese lawyers to assist them … nobody was in a better position to serve them than us,” said Jeff Abrams, partner in charge of the Indianapolis office of Benesch.

“If we have enough clients that have an interest to be somewhere, we feel like we can service them with our attorneys,” he said.

From the Indianapolis office, for instance, attorneys from Cleveland-based Benesch are helping to facilitate potential Chinese economic development in Indiana.

“We have made connections with the city of Marion,” Abrams noted as an example. “They’re looking to bring Chinese investment to the area.”

Those connections could be significant, he said, because international clients looking to locate in the Midwest, and particularly Indiana, might be instinctively inclined to choose Indianapolis.

California-based Littler Mendelson P.C., the nation’s largest labor and employment firm exclusively representing management, is the other firm with offices in Indianapolis and overseas. After establishing offices in Indianapolis in 2006, Littler expanded to offices in Mexico and Venezuela.•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  2. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

  3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

  4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

  5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

ADVERTISEMENT