Report: Ice Miller, Louisville firm end merger talks

Scott Olson
September 8, 2009
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Merger talks that began last year between Indianapolis-based Ice Miller LLP and a Louisville-based law firm reportedly have broken down, putting an end to a deal that was expected to close by the end of the year.

Citing an unnamed source at Greenebaum Doll & McDonald PLLC, Business First of Louisville reported Friday that months of negotiations between the firms had ended. The source said it became apparent within the past month that the merger would not move forward.

IBJ first reported in December that the two firms were poised to tie the knot. Ice Miller hasn't confirmed or denied the potential partnership and has repeatedly declined to discuss the negotiations. IBJ is a sister paper to Indiana Lawyer.

In an e-mailed statement to IBJ this morning, Ice Miller Managing Partner Byron Myers said the firm constantly is evaluating "growth opportunities" to better serve clients.

The source told Business First that Greenebaum Doll partners became concerned that aligning with a larger firm such as Ice Miller might result in a rate increase at a time when many clients already are struggling because of the recession.

Ice Miller has 258 attorneys, compared with Greenebaum Doll's 180. Both practices are venerable stalwarts in their respective cities - Ice Miller was founded in 1910 and Greenebaum Doll in 1952.

Sources have told IBJ that operational differences between the two - namely in the way the firms compensate partners - were taking longer than expected to sort out and may have helped stall a deal.

A failed merger with Ice Miller would represent the second time in the past few years that Greenebaum Doll could not close a deal. The firm had been in negotiations with St. Louis-based Thompson Coburn LLP about four years ago.

In addition to Louisville, Greenebaum Doll has Kentucky offices in Covington, Frankfort and Lexington, as well as in Cincinnati and in Nashville, Tenn.

Ice Miller has 227 lawyers in Indianapolis, ranking it as the third-largest in the city, according to the most recent statistics submitted by the firm to IBJ. It has 31 lawyers in Chicago, the Chicago suburb of Lisle and Washington, D.C.

Overall, law firm merger activity slowed during the second quarter, according to Chicago-based legal consultancy Hildebrandt. Nine mergers and acquisitions were completed compared with 14 in the second quarter of 2008.

Ice Miller may have an incentive to become larger to help offset its traditionally lucrative bond work, which is struggling in the challenging economy. Legislation passed by the General Assembly last year that puts big-ticket school construction projects to a referendum hasn't helped, either. Those projects are typically funded by bond sales.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.