Under John Koneck, the president of Fredrikson & Byron, the Minneapolis-based firm has grown from 180 lawyers to 315.
Koneck, 66, said the law firm need not merge with another partner for scale or geographic diversification, as have several Twin Cities firms in recent years to survive as the industry increasingly takes on a barbell look of large firms and boutiques.
Fredrikson, known best as a law firm for business, doesn’t disclose revenue or profitability. However, Koneck said Fredrikson would rank in the “upper half” of the “AmLaw 200”-size firms that ranged to revenue of $353 million in 2018. Fredrikson has eight offices, including Des Moines, Fargo, China and Mexico. Within the past year, Fredrikson opened an office in Mankato and increased its Des Moines office by 50%.
Q: Several smaller to midsize Twin Cities-based firms have merged with larger partners, such as Lindquist & Vennum, Briggs & Morgan, Gray Plant and Leonard Street. Why not you?
A: Fredrikson has never been stronger. We aren’t looking to merge with a larger firm. We proactively look for opportunities to grow through acquiring lawyers and services, and through regional, geographic expansion, including in complementary markets. This has been our growth strategy over the past 15 years.
We are strategic in hiring [lawyers] that practice the way we practice and also add strength or diversify our services. We’ve been successful with this growth because we are careful about cultural fit and we focus on two-way integration that benefits both sides and our clients. What we do very well is focus on building teams of talented, client-focused lawyers who can deliver exceptional value to clients while maintaining our culture. We stay client-focused and keep our talent. We keep our talent because we support our lawyers working together.
Q: What’s the secret sauce, beyond competitive pay, that allows Fredrikson to deliver for clients who could be lured by larger firms?
A: Attracting and retaining quality talent is key. The vast majority of our people choose to stay and grow their careers at Fredrikson. We have not lost attorneys to national firms that have opened offices here, and we’ve lost very few to firms that were already established here.
We support our lawyers to allow them to be successful in developing practices and servicing their clients in the manner that makes sense for them and for our firm. That comes through providing the resources they need to continue to do interesting work for good clients and in the long term, grow their practices. And we think we offer a unique combination where entrepreneurship and collaboration are integrated. Lawyers are aggressive in developing business relationships but also work in teams to develop practices and support clients.
Q: Is there an advantage in the Twin Cities market to being locally owned and operated?
A: We think so. We still consider ourselves a regional law firm. While most of our lawyers and a lot of our leadership is here in the Twin Cities, it is important that we are committed in each of our markets. We are not simply a Minneapolis firm with branches.
All of our offices are integral to the success of our firm. And our local relationships with clients. And our deep roots in our various communities are an advantage.
Q: Isn’t there an advantage to assuming a national name?
A: Fredrikson has a strong brand and reputation. We consider ourselves a premier law firm in the Midwest and don’t see a big advantage for our clients or lawyers in becoming part of a larger, out-of-market firm.