Minnesota's legal landscape became more regional this week with the finalized merger between Leonard, Street and Deinard of Minneapolis and the Kansas City, Mo., firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker.
The new firm, which became official on Jan. 1, is now known as Stinson Leonard Street.
With the merger, Stinson Leonard Street will have more than 520 attorneys in 14 mainly Midwestern cities offering transactional and litigation services across a wide range of practice areas, from agribusiness and aviation to energy and technology.
The merger reflects a national trend among midsize firms to get bigger in order to compete with large firms.
In its new configuration, Stinson Leonard Street becomes one of the 100 largest U.S. law firms, according to the National Law Journal.
"It broadens their footprint," said Jodi Standke of Talon Performance Group, a legal consultant and talent management and leadership firm. "Big firms have a bigger footprint, a variety of practices and a competitive rate structure. The smaller, more niched firms have a different clientele. The midsize firms are in between those two."
Stinson Leonard Street will maintain principal operations in Kansas City and Minneapolis and be run by two managing partners — Lowell Stortz from Leonard Street and Mark Hinderks from Stinson. The deputy managing partner is Stinson attorney Allison Murdock.
In announcing completion of the merger, the firm said it had combined practice groups, selected group leaders and integrated business functions in about 100 days since the merger was announced in late September.
"We were able to bring everything together quickly because our firms shared similar strategies, management styles and cultures," said Stortz.
However, merging two law firms can be dicey if personalities conflict and there's competition for leadership roles in the different practice groups.
"Even if issues arise they are going to vary in intensity and significance," said Herbert Kritzer, a University of Minnesota law professor who teaches the business of law. "If the distribution of work is primarily dependent on which office is the prime contact with a client or which office is the primary location of some specific work, the problems may be less."
The Stinson Leonard Street merger is the second major merger involving a Minneapolis law firms and one of several involving smaller firms merging with larger out-of-state firms that want a presence in the Minnesota market with its array of Fortune 500 companies and high-tech firms.
The megamerger of Faegre Baker Daniels (FaegreBD) involving established firms in Minneapolis and Indianapolis just celebrated its second anniversary.
On Friday, FaegreBD announced the addition of 15 new partners to the firm, including seven in the Minneapolis office. That brings the total count of lawyers and professionals in the merged firm to 776, slightly less that the number two years ago.
"Will we see more mergers? I would think so," said Kritzer, who suggested that FaegreBD might seek a partner on either the West and East coasts to fill a void in those markets and that Minneapolis' Dorsey & Whitney might seek a presence in the southeastern U.S. to fill its geographic dance card.