One of Indiana's largest law firms is merging with a Kentucky-based firm in a move to become more of a regional and national player.
Indiana-based Locke Reynolds will join Frost Brown Todd of Louisville, effective Jan. 5. Both firms voted Wednesday afternoon in favor of the union, which means the end of the name Locke Reynolds that's been a part of the state's legal community since 1917.
Post-merger, the firm will take the name Frost Brown Todd.
"We expect to be as competitive in this marketplace as anyone in this country," said Locke Reynolds partner and management committee member Jim Dimos. "(Frost Brown Todd) saw not being in Indianapolis as a hole in their strategy. They see this as a vibrant city and they're excited about being here."
As one of the top 10 largest firms in the state, Locke Reynolds has about 80 attorneys in its Indianapolis and Fort Wayne offices. Frost Brown Todd describes itself as one of the largest regional firms between Chicago and Atlanta, with more than 350 attorneys in the 10 offices scattered throughout fives states - Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Currently, it has three attorneys listed as working in the New Albany, Ind., location.
Post-merger, the firm will have between 90 and 100 attorneys in Indiana and more than 450 attorneys in the five-state region, making it among the Midwest's largest. The firm is expected to see more than $175 million in revenue during its first full year in 2009.
Nelson D. Alexander, who is currently managing partner at Locke Reynolds, will serve as member-in-charge of Frost Brown Todd's office in Indianapolis once the merger is finalized.
This marriage has been in the works for about two years, Dimos said. The Indiana firm has explored potential mergers for years, but nothing ever gained momentum until 2007 when partners decided to more aggressively investigate options and then the two firms found each other. They got serious about the merger earlier this year, he said.
Dimos said that by merging, the litigation-strong Locke Reynolds is able to strengthen the transactional, non-litigation practice areas that Frost Brown Todd thrives in, such as corporate and commercial law.
"We have attorneys there, but we needed more depth in those areas in addition to our litigation practice that's already strong at a regional or national level," Dimos said. "This was the best course for us."
Neither firm has been struggling in these economic times and that wasn't a factor in the merger, Dimos said. Both firms expect a smooth transition because they share a similar culture and personality, and no staff or lawyer layoffs are expected, he said.
Foster Brown Todd officials weren't immediately available for comment on the merger news, but in a news release co-managing members Richard Erikson and Ed Glasscock spoke highly of Indianapolis and the opportunity to enter this market.
This is the second Indiana firm this year to merge with an out-of-state firm and strip the established local name - Indianapolis-based Sommer Barnard became Taft Stettinius & Hollister in May. The Indianapolis Business Journal also reported this week that Indianapolis-based, 263-attorney Ice Miller is expected to soon announce a merger with 180-attorney Greenebaum Dolly & McDonald in Louisville, Ky, though both firms have declined to publicly comment on that.