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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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