Sommer Barnard merging with Ohio firm

Scott Olson
January 1, 2008
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The 64 partners of Sommer Barnard unanimously voted today to approve the firm's merger with Cincinnati-based Taft Stettinius & Hollister.

The vote means Taft Stettinius & Hollister will absorb Sommer Barnard on May 1, meaning Indianapolis will lose one of its largest law firms.

Sommer Barnard was founded in 1969 and has 103 lawyers, making it the seventh-largest in the city, according to Indianapolis Business Journal statistics.

Taft Stettinius, whose roots date to 1885, has 200 lawyers in Cincinnati and additional Ohio offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton. It has locations in Covington, Ky., and Phoenix, as well.

The merger of Sommer Barnard & Taft Stettinius continues an industry-wide trend in which regional and national firms are expanding to serve clients with multiple locations.

Talk of a merger involving Sommer Barnard had swirled for months, fueled by the share of ups and downs it has experienced in the past several years.

The firm acquired the Ancel & Dunlap bankruptcy practice in 2001 and a year later doubled its office space by moving from Chase Tower to One Indiana Square. It merged with the practice of prominent Washington, D.C., trial lawyer and native Hoosier Nels Ackerson the same year to become Sommer Barnard Ackerson Attorneys.

But roughly 12 months later, the marriage began to crack. By the time Ackerson arrived, the corporate defense side of the business had become as large as the plaintiff work. Ackerson's arrival and the conflict of interest it created with the growing defense practice was greater than anticipated, partners said at the time. The relationship ultimately dissolved in July 2004.

The following year, four partners were among six lawyers who jumped ship from Sommer Barnard to Bingham McHale. Among those who left was John Gregg, a former Democratic speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives.

And in 2007, Ginovus, the economic development consulting arm of Sommer Barnard, was forced to retrench after losing most of its professional staff to Bingham McHale, which had launched its own economic development consulting practice.

Recently, Sommer Barnard and Taft Stettinius had worked together on at least one occasion. Lawyers for both firms jointly filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Virginia-based Center for Equal Opportunity and Project 21 supporting Indiana's voter ID law. Justices ruled in favor of the state yesterday.

Sommer Barnard chief operating officer Debra Marple left early this month.

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  1. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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  3. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  4. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

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