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Small law firm dissolving as 9 attorneys go to Bose McKinney

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Most of the lawyers at a civil litigation firm in Indianapolis are departing for one of the city’s largest law firms at the end of the year, dissolving a firm with a rich history that’s been around in some form since the early 1980s and has included some high-profile attorneys such as Birch and Evan Bayh.

Five partners and four associates from Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle are joining Bose McKinney & Evans at the beginning of the year, both firms confirmed with Indiana Lawyer on Dec 4. Another partner departed earlier that week to create her own family law practice on the north side of Indianapolis, which means only four active members will remain once the move happens Jan. 1.

The lawyers joining Bose are: name partners Gregory Hahn and Robert Weddle, partners Matthew W. Conner, Mary M. Ruth Feldhake, and Chad T. Walker, and the four associates David J. Duncan, Joel T. Nagle, Kevin M. Quinn, and Elizabeth Schuerman.
 

tabbert Law firm Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle in Indianapolis is dissolving at end of 2010 as most of its attorneys depart for other firms. (IL Photo/ Michael Hoskins)

“We don’t even know what to call this at this point, except maybe a business combination,” said Hahn, who’s been a name partner at the firm for a little more than 20 years. “Overall as a law firm, we have a number of national and international clients and this just gives us a bigger platform to represent those interests. I’m very excited about this. They’re great lawyers and have a great reputation, and this combo will help everyone go to a bigger plateau.”

Bose managing partner Jeff Gaither said this symbolized the union of ‘two like-minded teams” sharing a “collaborative creative culture that fosters partnerships” among the respective lawyers for added value to clients.

The smaller firm has struggled in recent years to compete with larger firms that can offer more for clients searching for a “one-stop shop,” and Weddle said they’ve been discussing this possibility since mid-October. The two firms were both looking at lateral hires, and their long-established relationship was the starting point for discussion about possibly joining together. All the mid-sized firm partners agreed to move forward on exploring possibilities, according to Hahn and Weddle, and they said this moved behind the scenes until now to allow the attorneys to notify their clients of the changes and discourage gossip from surfacing in the legal community.

“It’s like dating – they do a little and then we do and it just kept evolving,” said Weddle, who’s been with the firm for more than a decade and serves as managing partner. “You have to move fast enough so that all the rumors don’t start materializing, and if it doesn’t go through it just feels weird and awkward for everyone.”

Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle’s practice includes various civil litigation areas.

But the public affairs, medical malpractice, and pharmaceutical defense areas mainly drew the firms together, they said.

Now, the departing attorneys will join those practice groups within a larger law firm that Indianapolis Business Journal listed earlier this year as city’s fifth largest, giving it about 116 lawyers. IBJ is Indiana Lawyer’s sister publication, as both entities are owned by IBJ Media.

Weddle, who practices in the medical malpractice and pharmaceutical defense areas, said that Bose wanted to expand that area of focus and this allows them to do that.

This also means that the governmental affairs affiliate known as Tabbert Hahn Ping Global Strategies will become an ancillary organization of Bose McKinney & Evans, taking on the new name of Bose Ping Government Strategies. Hahn described Bose as having one of the biggest and best governmental affairs groups statewide, possibly even in the Midwest, and said this union matched well for everyone involved.

With all but four lawyers leaving, the remaining attorneys are name partner Lante K. Earnest, partners David Shelton and Robert Daniels, and associate Mark Pizur. Co-founder Don A. Tabbert, who is 82, remains as of counsel along with Joseph Hammes and Alan Nelson.

Partner Judy Tyrrell left Dec. 1 to establish her own family law-focused firm on the north side of Indianapolis at Keystone at the Crossing.

Those remaining attorneys plan to go off on their own and it’s not sure at this time what they may do, according to Weddle. A date has not yet been established for an official dissolution of the firm, but it’s expected near the end of the year, he said.

“When you’re a small firm, a closure is like a family coming apart,” Weddle said.

This dissolution means the end of a firm that’s been around in some form since about 1988, and is currently located on the 19th floor of the Regions Bank Center across from the Birch Bayh Federal Building. But the firm has its roots in what had been established as a public affairs specialty firm in the early 1980s in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., by Tabbert, a one-time congressional candidate who served as U.S. Attorney in the Southern District; former Sen. Birch Bayh, and James B. Capehart, an attorney admitted in 1960 who is part of the same family that includes the senator Birch Bayh defeated in the 1962 U.S. Senate race and another Capehart who was part of the law firm formerly known as Krieg Devault Alexander & Capehart.

The firm known then as Bayh Tabbert & Capehart brought in high-profile names through the years, including a young Evan Bayh who worked there briefly before being elected Indiana Secretary of State and later governor and U.S. senator. That firm began disbanding in 1985, and Tabbert remained as the only one of those three original partners to anchor and nurture what eventually became Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle.

Though this change does alter the legal community in Indianapolis and statewide, it doesn’t rise to the level last seen in 2008 when Sommer Barnard became Taft Stettinius & Hollister and Locke Reynolds merged with Frost Brown Todd.

Earlier this year, the regional law firm Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff merged with the Indianapolis-based Dann Pecar Newman & Kleiman to become simply known as Benesch/Dann Pecar in this market.

Some speculation continues about other law firm mergers or acquisitions in the works, but this is the only one made public at this point before the year comes to a close.•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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