The Indianapolis office of Cleveland-based law firm Benesch will close by the end of April, with nearly all of its attorneys migrating to Taft Stettinius & Hollister, attorneys from both major firms have confirmed.
“In my opinion, it jumps up our real estate group,” said Brad Schwer, partner-in-charge of the Indianapolis office of Taft. “Now with the addition of (Benesch attorneys), we become one of the pre-eminent groups in the city.” He said the addition of 14 attorneys from the local Benesch office also will enhance Taft's intellectual property, creditors rights and litigation practices.
Jeff Kosc, managing partner of the Indianapolis Benesch office, said 14 attorneys at the firm will migrate to Taft by the end of April. He described the move as a cooperative, friendly and orderly transition with Benesch. He said news of the move to Taft was announced to the Benesch office last week.
“We had a great relationship with Benesch, but we've been unable to grow the office in Indianapolis,” Kosc said. “We're looking to move to a larger platform here in Indy.” In addition to the groups Schwer mentioned, Kosc said Benesch attorneys also will supplement Taft's municipal services practice.
“We're thankful to our colleagues at Benesch and grateful for the time we had with Benesch,” Kosc said.
The move will bring Taft to about 120 lawyers in Indianapolis, solidifying its position as the fourth-largest in the market, Schwer said.
“We just couldn't be happier to bring them on board,” Schwer said of the partners and associates moving to Taft. “It's a perfect fit for them, and it's a perfect fit for us.”
Kosc agreed. Taft, he said, “was a great fit in terms of practices, and culturally, we thought it was a great fit as well. … They’re a growing and dynamic firm in this market, and we’re excited.”
Joining Kosc in the move to Taft from Benesch are partners Jeffrey A. Abrams, Kiamesha-Sylvia G. Colom, Melvin R. Daniel, Peter S. French, Andrew A. Kleiman, Andi M. Metzel and James H. Schwarz. Also joining Taft are four Benesch associates — Kevin J. Burns, Patrick F.X. Fitzpatrick, Jr., Paul Obszanski and Lindsey Rothrock. Norman R. Newman and Gary P. Price will join as senior counsel.
“This group of well-respected attorneys is a strong fit for Taft’s firm-wide growth strategy," Taft chairman and managing partner Robert J. Hicks said in a statement. "We are thrilled to expand our real estate, litigation, technology and intellectual property practices with the addition of these attorneys. I have known many of them for much of my career, and they are highly skilled in helping clients navigate complex scenarios. They will quickly add tremendous value to Taft with their impressive client service mindset.”
Schwer noted that in addition to the real estate expertise his firm will gain, that practice is accentuated by overlapping practices such as IP and Taft's strong mergers and acquisitions practice. He also said Taft's recent announcement that it was moving to a single-tier equity partner structure will make the firm attractive to additional lateral moves. Coupled with the announcement of the lateral moves from Benesch, he said, these factors make Taft “very attractive across the board” in attracting talent.
In a statement, Taft said it added 51 lateral attorneys in 2017 across a range of disciplines.
Both Taft and Benesch are relative newcomers in the Indianapolis legal market. Both entered the market through mergers, gobbling up established Indianapolis-based firms. Cincinnati-based Taft merged with the Sommer Barnard practice in 2008. Sommer Barnard had 64 partners and a total of 103 lawyers at the time of the merger, according to Indianapolis Business Journal research.
Benesch entered the Indianapolis market in 2010, acquiring one of Indianapolis' oldest firms, Dann Pecar Newman & Kleiman, just shy of Dann Pecar's 100th anniversary. When the merger was announced, the local firm initally named Benesch/Dann Pecar boasted 29 attorneys.
But the Benesch Indianapolis office's numbers declined rather than grew since the acquisition. Benesch currently claims just 15 full-time partners or associates in addition to of counsel lawyers.
In a statement issued last week, Benesch managing partner Gregg Eisenberg did not acknowledge the Indianapolis office was closing. Rather, the statement led off by touting Benesch's “remarkable growth of more than 60 percent” and “a strong and growing client base.
“Some Benesch team members in Indianapolis have made the decision to move their practice,” the brief statement continued. “All of us wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”
“This is a great opportunity for our colleagues in Indianapolis while also a benefit for Benesch too as we continue our growth plans,” Eisenberg said in the statement. “All our futures are bright as we continue providing excellent service to all our clients.”
Taft boasts more than 400 attorneys firmwide in 10 offices. Including Indianapolis. Benesch counts more than 200 attorneys eight offices in the Midwest, on the East Coast, and in Shanghai, China.