Barnes & Thornburg LLP attorneys in Elkhart are settling into new digs, having left the downtown office they called home since 1996 and moving closer to the growing industrial corridor of the city’s recreational vehicle base.
J. Scott Troeger, managing partner of the Elkhart office, explained the firm’s new location near the Indiana Toll Road enables the attorneys to easily meet face-to-face with manufacturers throughout Elkhart County. Access to main thoroughfares will give the lawyers the ability to quickly get to Bristol, Middlebury, Goshen and Nappanee.
Elkhart County has been dubbed the “RV Capital of the World” because many towable and motorhome makers along with their suppliers are headquartered there. Troeger noted although technology lets attorneys work from anywhere, the practice of law is still a very personal business. Especially within Elkhart County, attorneys benefit from having a physical presence because many clients prefer in-person interactions.
The firm moved Nov. 18 and 19 and, according to Troeger, the office is still unpacking and trying to find things like coffee cups and Post-it Notes. The Elkhart office decided to change addresses because downtown space was showing wear and tear and not suiting attorney needs. As the lease came up for renewal, the firm began scouting other locations.
Barnes’ Elkhart attorneys are now occupying a first-floor space in a lone building at 52700 Independence Court. Originally the building was part of a planned office park that got derailed during the Great Recession. However, some development has been sprouting lately with the construction of a new $5-million research and development facility for Furrion LLC.
Also, the new office is just down the road from the Recreational Vehicle/Manufactured Housing Hall of Fame.
Although the Elkhart office is roughly a 15-mile trek to Barnes & Thornburg’s office in downtown South Bend, Troeger said the two locations will not be consolidating. Again, he pointed to the business environment of Elkhart and the need to be physically in the area to understand what is happening locally and better serve the clients.
“If you’re here,” Troeger said, “you really understand the dynamics of Elkhart and what the needs are.”
Previously, Barnes’ Elkhart office was located in the heart of the city’s center, sharing a building with Chase Bank. The downtown building was constructed in 1974 by the architectural firm of Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP, the same group that designed the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago.
Inside, the firm occupied an office that Troeger described as “very old school.” The space was reminiscent of an English club with lot of mahogany wood. Conversely, the new office reflects the modern aesthetics in the clean lines and the flex-space that give the attorneys the option of working in a more communal area.
In addition, the new space has three conference rooms and offices for each of the seven attorneys. Also, the firm has two paralegals and five support staff plus plans to bring on a new associate next year.
The Elkhart office started in 1965 at Cawley & Harman then merged with the South Bend firm of Oare Thornburg McGill & Deahl to become Thornburg McGill Deahl Harman Carey & Murray. That firm merged in 1982 with the Indianapolis firm of Barnes Hickam Pantzer & Boyd to become Barnes & Thornburg.