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Taft announces merger, enters Chicago market

Dave Stafford
November 19, 2013
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The Midwest legal firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP will enter its largest market, announcing Tuesday its merger with a 70-lawyer Chicago firm.

Shefsky & Froelich of Chicago will become part of the Taft group of affiliated offices around the Midwest that includes locations in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton and northern Kentucky, as well as a branch office in Phoenix.

Robert J. Hicks, partner-in-charge of Taft’s Indianapolis office and a member of the firm’s executive committee, said the merger effective Jan. 2, 2014, will bring Taft to nearly 400 attorneys firm-wide, billing in the range of $175 million to $200 million annually.

With about 100 attorneys in the Indianapolis office, Taft is the seventh-largest law firm in the city, according to Indianapolis Business Journal research.

“Being in Chicago with a very sophisticated presence with deep roots has been on our agenda for a long time,” Hicks said. Taft considered nearly 10 firms in Chicago for close to two years and interviewed five or six it considered possible merger partners before Taft and Shefsky agreed to the partnership.

“They have a practice which matches ours beautifully and very quality people,” Hicks said.

Founded in 1970, Hicks said Shefsky has built a national reputation in gaming law. The firm’s litigation practice, appellate practice and corporate and real estate practices are outstanding, he added, often “fighting out of their weight class” against much larger firms in the market.

Hicks said under the Taft model, Shefsky’s current management team in Chicago will  remain in place and the local office will have autonomy. Some of Shefsky’s executives will join Taft’s executive committee, and some key Shefsky personnel, including finance and IT personnel, will take on more regional of firm-wide roles. The firm will begin operating under the Taft name.

Hicks said he and Taft managing partner Tom Terp from the Cincinnati office will be spending a considerable amount of time in the Chicago office, but he stressed, “The local guys will manage the office. We’re not going to terminate any employees.”

Taft’s decentralized structure was a key selling point for Shefsky, Hicks said. As Taft was looking at the firm, so were other, much larger potential suitors.

“They felt like those would have been a takeover,” Hicks said. “This is very much a partnership and a merger.”

In a statement announcing the merger, Cezar (“Cid”) M. Froelich of Shefsky & Froelich praised the partnership.

“With this merger, we will strengthen our core practices, but we also will be able to provide many services and cover areas of expertise that we just couldn’t before with a firm of 70 lawyers,” Froelich said. “Best of all, we will not change our client service culture and we will maintain our direct relationships with them. Our respective firm cultures and internal structures align remarkably well. We will be able to provide our clients with all the benefits of a large firm, while maintaining our historical fee structure and client attentiveness of a midsized firm.”

Hicks said the merger also aligns with Taft’s vision.

“Our goal is to have a substantial presence but stay in the Midwest and be in all the significant centers of the Midwest,” he said. “We want to have a Midwestern rate structure with the quality of one of the firms on the coasts.”

Taft was founded in 1885. The firm entered the Indianapolis market in 2008 when the 64 partners of Sommer Barnard agreed to a merger.
 

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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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