After more than half a century of representing labor unions, working Hoosiers and public interest organizations, the Indianapolis law firm of Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe closed Sept. 1.
However, two attorneys from the firm, David Vlink and William Groth, will be joining and helping transform Macey Swanson into Macey Swanson Hicks Sauer & Vlink LLP. The new firm, located at 445 N. Pennsylvania St. in Indianapolis, will have seven attorneys covering a range of practice areas including labor and employment, worker’s compensation, employee benefits, and product liability, in addition to injuries and accidents.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for synergy when we bring our client base and merge,” said Groth, who joined what was then Fillenwarth & Fillenwarth in 1975.
Both Fillenwarth Dennerline and Macey Swanson are employment and labor law firms focused on representing workers and unions.
Macey Swanson was founded more than 40 years ago by Barry Macey and Richard Swanson along with retired partner Nora Macey. In 2017, the founders turned the firm leadership over to Robert Hicks, Quincy Sauer and Jeff Macey.
Fillenwarth & Fillenwarth was established in 1963 when Ed Fillenwarth Jr., graduated from Notre Dame Law School and joined his father’s labor law practice. Frederick “Rick” Dennerline III was hired in 1974 to represent the firm’s growing list of union pension and insurance trust funds. Fred Towe joined in 1986, bringing experience as a union-side labor lawyer. Groth handled the firm’s growing litigation and arbitration practice.
Ed Fillenwarth retired about a decade ago. Towe retired in 2018 and Dennerline is retiring this month. In addition, former partner Geoff Lohman departed after 18 years to work as in-house counsel and business representative for a Teamsters local in Fort Wayne.
With its focus on providing representation for employees, Groth said, the firm was unable to expand primarily because of the “assault on organized labor.” There was not enough spillover work to bring on and mentor new attorneys.
Groth expanded his own practice into other areas. He represented same-sex couples in the fight for marriage equality in Indiana and has been counsel for Indiana advocacy groups working to protect voting rights. That work, he said, did provide him with a “certain degree of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.”
Although he will turn 70 next year, Groth does not plan to retire. “I’ll keep practicing as long as I can contribute something,” he said.
Macey Swanson is optimistic about the future. The firm believes with the mix of experienced of counsel attorneys and leadership from the next generation, it is well positioned to continuing serving the needs of workers and labor unions in the Midwest.