Quarles & Brady latest large firm to expand to Indianapolis

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The gutted 24th floor of the BMO building in Indianapolis offers panoramic views in every direction. Linden Barber visualizes the space taking shape, but he doesn’t see himself in a corner office.

“The corners are all democratic. There is no corner office in Indianapolis at Quarles & Brady,” said Barber, managing partner of the location that opened last month. Instead, those premium spaces will be remodeled as common areas where attorneys will collaborate and confer with clients.

“No one’s going to quarrel,” Barber said, pausing upon catching his pun, “over who gets which office.”

So far, nine attorneys have signed on at Quarles & Brady, and they’ll be working 10 floors down until renovations are complete, likely in November. They’ll share central space on the 24th floor, and Barber said the blank slate is being designed to accommodate more than 30 attorneys.

That’s a testament to what Quarles & Brady and other larger firms have seen in the legal market here – promise enough to set up shop in Indianapolis not through merger or acquisition, but by expanding with the launch of a branded office. And then expanding some more.

“We look at the vibrant economy of Indianapolis and what those areas of the economy are, and we really think they’re in intellectual property, they’re in health care, they’re in manufacturing,” Barber said.

“We saw this as a good fit to offer services in a more robust way to our clients,” he said. “We’re going to follow our clients and give them a legal firm that will enter into partnership with them to help them succeed.”

In terms of corporate size, Quarles & Brady is slightly smaller than large firms with Indianapolis roots such as Barnes & Thornburg LLP and Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. FaegreBD ranked 66th on The American Lawyer’s 2013 Am Law 200 list, while Barnes was 102nd. Quarles was ranked 129th.

Firm officials said some of Quarles’ Indiana clients include Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Emmis Communications Corp., and Just Marketing Inc. The firm serves several other Hoosier clients, mostly in the financial services, manufacturing and health care sectors.

“The firm has taken a very strategic approach to what are our clients’ needs and where are we going to have offices,” Barber said. And the firm’s local office growth will come from recruiting lawyers who are a good fit with the firm’s collaborative culture. Those hires may come through lateral moves or by bringing on recent law school grads.

quarles Linden Barber, managing partner of Quarles & Brady’s new Indianapolis location, stands in the offices undergoing renovation in the BMO building. Opening last month with six lawyers, the firm is creating space for more than 30. (IL Photo/Eric Learned)

“You’ve got a lot of home-grown talent here,” said Barber, a native of northwest Indiana.

Other large out-of-town firms that have expanded to Indianapolis also have found room to grow.

Connie Lindman is managing partner of Chicago-based SmithAmundsen LLC’s Indianapolis office. It recently marked its first year in business, and it’s been a successful one.

“We’ve doubled the size of the group in a year, and in our new space we have room to double again,” Lindman said. The goal is to bring the number of attorneys practicing in the Indianapolis office to about 12 by year’s end.

Lindman leads SmithAmundsen’s firm-wide intellectual property practice from the Indianapolis location, but she said it’s been the intention since the launch of the location here to grow into a full-service firm.

“We would be happy to recruit in any area of business or commercial law,” she said. “I would like to move more quickly on that, and that is why we are actively looking for laterals.”

The Indianapolis legal market is competitive despite its lack of Fortune 500 headquarters, she said.

“I think companies of all size want to receive top-quality legal services, and they want to receive them at Midwest rates,” Lindman said. “We are operating at a world-class level, and we can do that from Indianapolis.”

With its expansion in Indianapolis, SmithAmundsen has grown to a firm of more than 150 lawyers across seven offices around the Midwest.

quarles-facts.jpgOperating the global firm Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart P.C. from its Indianapolis office, managing partner Kim Ebert said the firm’s overall growth since opening the Indianapolis location in 2000 has been remarkable.

The office started with eight lawyers and now has 35 in Indianapolis, according to Ebert. That’s representative of the firm’s overall growth – from 140 attorneys in 2000 to more than 720. The number of offices also has multiplied, from 12 to 45, including recent expansions in London and Berlin.

Ebert said Ogletree has posted average revenue gains of about 15 percent annually since 2007, and the Atlanta-based firm surged up the Am Law 100 from 97th place in 2012 to 88th in 2013.

“That may have been the biggest move on the list, other than through mergers,” he said.

The firm’s focus on labor and employment law provides insulation from some of the more cyclical areas of practice, Ebert said. At the same time, he added, there’s ongoing consolidation of firms with significant labor practices.

Another trend, Ebert said, is that of large national employers signing law firms to preferred provider agreements to handle all their legal needs.

“So we have a distinct advantage in that we have 45 offices. We’ve been successful competing for those types of proposals,” he said.

For Barber, the view of Indianapolis from the unfinished shell of an office is a market likely to continue to attract expansion from national firms that see opportunities.

“We’ve got a long-term commitment here,” he said.•


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues