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Ice Miller, Bingham Greenebaum Doll reduce downtown office space

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A couple of Indianapolis’ largest law firms are giving up space in two downtown office towers, exemplifying how the legal profession is shifting the way in which it conducts business.

Ice Miller LLP and Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP have re-signed long-term leases to retain their large downtown presences. But Ice Miller gave up two of its nine floors at OneAmerica Tower, on the northwest corner of Illinois and Ohio streets. Bingham gave up one of its six floors at Market Tower, 10 W. Market St.

Ice Miller, the city’s third-largest firm based on number of attorneys, also moved some back-office operations across Illinois Street to Capital Center to further reduce expenses and provide roomier working conditions.

Capital Center’s rent of $20.50 per square foot is cheaper than OneAmerica Tower’s $24.50, saving Ice Miller a hefty six-figure sum per year, said Phil Bayt, one of the managing partners.

Ice Miller will retain 130,000 square feet at OneAmerica Tower; Bingham will keep 78,000 square feet at Market Tower.

“We’ve been on a quest to make sure that we examine every dollar of cost that we incur to understand how we can deliver our services more cheaply,” Bayt said.

The economic downturn forced scores of law firms to become more flexible with billing rates to retain clients and remain competitive. Reducing space is an obvious way to cut costs, as rent is among firms' largest expenses.

For Ice Miller and Bingham, whose long-term leases were set to expire, this was their first opportunity since the downturn to explore the cost savings.

“Just because you’re a senior partner who’s been around 30 years, you probably don’t need that office if you’re only coming in once a week,” said Julie Armstrong, executive director of the Indianapolis Bar Association.

Another huge relic: the law library. Ice Miller once had the largest in the state outside the law schools, Bayt said. Most tomes and documents have been converted to electronic volumes, making the rows of binders and shelves nearly obsolete.

“[Reducing space] is definitely a trend simply because technology has enhanced our ability to do more with less,” said Mary Solada, Bingham’s managing partner. "We're essentially right-sizing. We don't need as much library space."

Bingham Greenebaum Doll, the city’s fifth-largest firm, formed in late 2011 from the merger of Bingham McHale LLP with Louisville-based Greenebaum Doll & McDonald. Bingham’s decision to reduce its space would have occurred regardless of the marriage, she said.

Both Ice Miller and Bingham plan to remodel their existing space to make it even more efficient.

Ice Miller's Bayt said his firm will invest $2 million in system-wide technology upgrades to improve virtual office capabilities.  

Ice Miller is eliminating its lunch room, for instance, and converting it to multi-purpose space that will serve as a coffee shop during the day and a reception area in the evening.

“There are simply more lawyers than there is legal business nationwide,” Bayt said. “You’ve got to differentiate yourself on quality and efficiency. If you don’t, you can’t compete for legal business.”

Several local law firms have merged or folded in recent years as the legal market becomes more competitive. The latest, Stewart & Irwin P.C., closed late last month.

Founded in 1922, the general practice firm had 22 lawyers as of April and ranked as the city’s 21st-largest firm, according to IBJ research.

Its demise has left a one-floor vacancy within Two Market Square at 251 E. Ohio St.
 
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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