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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. 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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