Faegre Baker Daniels will merge with a large Philadelphia firm to form one of the 50 largest law firms in the U.S.
Faegre and Drinker Biddle & Reath announced last month that they were in merger talks. Partners at the two firms have now voted to form Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath on Feb. 1.
“We’ve been in discussions with the Drinker firm for a better part of a year,” said Tom Froehle, the chairman and managing partner of Faegre. “We’ve taken a pretty deliberative process in terms of getting to know their leadership team and then some of the practice group leadership.”
Talks included what Froehle called “socializations” or opportunities for partners at the similar-sized firms to get to know each other and judge the cultural fit.
“Both firms take a lot of pride in the collaborative culture they’ve had over the years where they both team with each other but also with their clients,” Froehle said.
A good cultural fit was nonnegotiable to both firms, Froehle said, and both sides share the ideal of providing clients “excellence without arrogance.”
The geographic fit of the two firms will create a national law firm with 1,300 attorneys and consultants in 19 U.S. markets and three international cities: London, Beijing and Shanghai. The firm will have limited overlap at offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Going forward, the largest offices will be Minneapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
The combined firm is expected to have annual revenue of $950 million.
“This starts and ends with clients. We always focus on what they need,” said Gina Kastel, vice chair and chief operating partner at Faegre.
Clients have been telling law firms they want to work with fewer firms that have greater capabilities. That has led to a rush of law-firm mergers in last few years. According to Altman Weil Inc., a management-consulting firm to the legal profession which has been tracking law-firm mergers since 2007, there were 106 law-firm mergers in the U.S. in 2018 and 111 deals so far in 2019, the most in the last 10 years.
Two other venerable Twin Cities firms announced mergers this year. Briggs and Morgan will merge with Midwest firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister. Gray Plant Mooty, the oldest continuing law firm in Minneapolis, has agreed to merge with Kansas City firm Lathrop Gage.
Faegre dates back to when Baker & Daniels was founded in 1863 with one of its partners, Thomas Hendricks, a former vice president of the United States and Indiana governor.
“This is an opportunity for us to add more depth and breadth … in practice areas and industry focus,” Kastel said. “One thing that is unusual and exciting about this opportunity is that our four largest practices at the two firms overlap.”
The top service areas of the firm will be in business litigation, corporate law, product liability and intellectual property. The combined firm will be co-chaired by Drinker Biddle Chairman and CEO Andrew Kassner and Froehle.
The firm hasn’t declared a headquarters city. As law firms combine and grow, they have moved away from naming a headquarters city.
The combined firm will spread business strengths and leadership around their offices, but its largest office in number of attorneys will continue to be Minneapolis, Froehle said.
“We are proud of our long history of leadership in this community, both in the business community and with our pro bono work,” said Kastel, who is based in Minneapolis. “We are committed to that very strong presence in the Twin Cities going forward.”