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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. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  4. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

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