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 evolving 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 have confirmed with Indiana Lawyer. Another partner left last 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.
Those lawyers leaving for Bose are: named partners Gregory Hahn and Robert Weddle, partners Matthew W. Conner, Mary M. Ruth Feldhake, and Chad T. Walker, and four associates David J. Duncan, Joel T. Nagle, Kevin M. Quinn, and Elizabeth Schuerman.
"I'm very excited about this," said Hahn, who’s been with the firm for a little more than 20 years. "They're great lawyers and have a great reputation, and this combo will help everyone go to a bigger plateau."
Both Hahn and Weddle said they've been discussing this possibility since mid-October, and they recall it moving very quickly and staying out of the public eye until now to allow the attorneys to notify their clients of the changes and avoid speculation. Both firms were looking at lateral hires, but began exploring the long-established relationship and whether a merger of sorts might be possible. All the Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle partners decided to move ahead with conversations, and it evolved from there.
"It's kind of like dating - they do a little and then you do," said Weddle, who's been at the firm for 14 years. "It just kept evolving, and we tried to move fast enough so that all the rumors don't start materializing and, if it doesn't work out, everyone isn't left feeling weird and awkward."
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.
Both Hahn and Weddle said that it was both the public affairs and medical litigation fields that drew the firms together.
On its website, Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle lists companies in the medical, insurance, and gaming industries as some of its clients, as well as the city of Indianapolis. The departing attorneys practice in varying fields, from medical malpractice and product liability to gaming and insurance defense litigation. Now, they will join those practice groups within a larger law firm that the Indianapolis Business Journal listed earlier this year as city's fifth largest. 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. Jennifer Ping will serve as principal of the new entity while others will work closely with the larger law firm's public affairs and communications group known as Bose Public Affairs Group.
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 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 and mostly retired, 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 three partners 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, he said.
Founded in about 1988, the firm is located in the Regions Bank Center across from the Birch Bayh Federal Building in Indianapolis. It actually has its roots in the firm established in the early 1980s in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., by Tabbert, a one-time congressional candidate who served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District; former Sen. Birch Bayh, and James Capehart, an attorney with family ties to the man Birch Bayh beat for U.S. Senate in 1962, as well as the Capeharts affiliated with the firm known as Krieg DeVault Alexander & Capehart.
The firm known then as Bayh Tabbert & Capehart brought 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. That firm began disbanding in 1985, and Tabbert remained as an anchor to nurture what eventually evolved into Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle.
This story will be updated in the Dec. 8 edition of IL.