ILNews

Mergers: Are we done yet?

Michael W. Hoskins
December 10, 2008
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Economic Impact

The Indiana legal community is seeing its most significant change in years, with the law firm merger mania hitting the Hoosier market in full force in 2008.

Indiana-based Locke Reynolds announced the first week of December that it will merge and take the name of
Cincinnati-Louisville regional firm Frost Brown Todd. That came two days after news that one of the state’s largest firms, Ice Miller, was formalizing a merger with Louisville firm Greenebaum Doll & McDonald.

If both materialize
by early January as expected, they’d join the May merger of Sommer Barnard with Taft Stettinius & Hollister to make this one of the most notable years for the Hoosier legal community.

Dimos“Indiana is a key target, and there are a number of deals being looked at right now,” said Tom Clay, a principal at legal consulting firm Altman Weil that tracks legal mergers and acquisitions. “This year hasn’t slowed down from the prior two years (nationally), and we could even see a record number by
the end of the year. Indiana is consistent with what’s going on in the national market right now.”

Clay said Indiana’s corporate culture is attractive to regional firms, particularly those in the Midwest and similar markets such as in Kentucky and Ohio. Hoosier firms and the ones in those areas are more compatible than larger firms in big cities, such as Chicago, he said.

Until this year, the last significant union the state saw was when Bingham Summers Welsh & Spilman and McHale Cook & Welch merged to form Bingham McHale in 2002.

“These things happen all the time and are always being discussed,” said Jim Dimos, a partner and management committee member with Locke Reynolds. “Ours won’t cause anything to happen in town, but it wouldn’t surprise me for others to happen.”

Considered the eighth largest firm in Indianapolis, Locke Reynolds had been working on its merger with Frost Brown Todd for more than a year, Dimos said. At a retreat in 2007, partners created a three-prong approach that involved exploring a merger with a smaller local firm, a firm similar in size, and a larger regional player. They hired national legal consulting firm Hildebrandt International to investigate potential partners; Frost Brown Todd landed at the top of the list.

Talk got more serious early this year, culminating with more discussion and an affirmative partner vote from both firms Dec. 3.

“They saw not being in Indianapolis as a hole in their strategy,” Dimos said.“They see
this as a vibrant city, and they’re excited about being here.”

Locke Reynolds has been a part of the Indianapolis legal community since 1917. Traditionally, the litigation firm has been most widely recognized for its representation of Ford Motor Co.

Effective Jan. 5, Locke Reynolds will take the name Frost Brown Todd and the 79 attorneys at its Indianapolis and Fort Wayne offices will join the 370 attorneys at the regional firm’s other locations. It has 10 offices in five states â?? Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Currently, it has three attorneys listed as working in the New Albany, Ind., location. Post-merger, about 90 to 100 attorneys will be in Indiana, with anticipated growth primarily in the Indianapolis office.

Nelson D. Alexander, who is currently managing partner at Locke Reynolds, will serve as member-in-charge of Frost Brown Todd’s office in Indianapolis once the merger is finalized.

A goal is to become more of a regional and national player, Dimos said. The firm already markets itself as one of the Midwest’s largest firms between Atlanta and Chicago, and it will stay at that level and is expected to see more than $175 million in revenue during its first full year in 2009.

“We expect to be as competitive in this marketplace as anyone in this country,” Dimos said.

Dimos said that by merging, the litigation-strong Locke Reynolds is able to strengthen the transactional, non-litigation practice areas that Frost Brown Todd thrives in, such as corporate and commercial law.

Neither firm has been struggling financially, and that wasn’t a factor in the merger,
Dimos said. Both firms expect a smooth transition because they share a similar culture and personality, and no staff or lawyer layoffs are expected, he said.

However, Dimos said the Locke Reynolds’ medical malpractice group is being eliminated because the strategic vision for the combined firm doesn’t include that defense area. The three attorneys and partners were asked about transitioning their practices to another area, but they instead chose to move their practices outside the firm, Dimos said.

This is the second Indiana firm this year to merge with an out-of-state firm and strip the established local name; Indianapolis-based Sommer Barnard became Taft Stettinius & Hollister in May. The Indianapolis Business Journal also reported Dec. 2 that Indianapolis-based Ice Miller is expected to finalize a merger by Jan. 1 with Greenebaum Doll & McDonald, though both firms have declined to publicly comment about a merger.

Ice Miller’s Chief Managing Partner Byron Myers did say the firm’s strategic plan calls for constant evaluation of markets and conditions to determine what opportunities might work to better serve clients.

“At this point, we are unable to publicly comment on specific opportunities as it would be premature to do so,” he wrote in a statement.

Greenebaum’s director of business development, Mary Hendrix, has denied any discussions are ongoing with Ice Miller.

“We just don’t have anything to say. Like all firms, we’ve been talking over the past year but we haven’t made any commitments,” she said. “I’m not sure where that came from, but if and when we get to that
point, we’ll say something.”

Outside of the Sommer Barnard and Taft merger in May, other firms have come together this year. At the beginning of 2008, Bingham merged with the smaller litigation boutique firm McTurnan & Turner and brought in 10 attorneys. That came after a merger with Keifer & McGoff in 2005, adding a white collar and criminal defense practice.

“This economy is causing law firms to focus on short-term and long-term strategies, so it is likely there will be more consolidation,” said Tobin McClamrock, managing partner with Bingham McHale, noting his firm isn’t seriously entertaining any merger options at this point.

If no others come about in 2008, the three mergers will have taken two Indiana-based firms off the list of top 10 largest Hoosier-created firms.

While the economic conditions aren’t being cited as reasons for the unions, those involved agree with merger-and-acquisition experts who say these uncertain times could lead to more corporate marriages. Experts say firms are exploring mergers to remain viable and competitive, particularly to expand services to clients that are in multiple locations.

Mergers slowed in the third quarter compared to last year at the same time, but overall for 2008 the number of mergers throughout the country is outpacing 2007 by 58 to 44. Last year, a total of 73 mergers were announced or completed, according to figures compiled by Altman Weil. With three weeks left in 2008, the total number so far is 69 for this year.

IBJ reporter Scott Olson contributed to this story.

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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