Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, a fixture in the Minneapolis legal community for nearly 60 years, is changing its name to Maslon.
The name change, effective Thursday, formalizes what has been reality for the past several years.
“We’ve already evolved into the Maslon law firm in the marketplace, so we decided to shorten the name and align it with what the market thinks about us,” said Cooper Ashley, a member of the 80-attorney firm’s governance committee.
Going with a shorter name is not unheard of in the legal community as founding partners retire and die off and law firms reward new lawyers with compensation packages instead of their names on a shingle.
“They’re definitely following a trend,” said Jodi Standke of Talon Performance Group, a legal recruiting and development firm. “We’ve been seeing firms reduce down to one or two names for simplicity’s sake. Most people refer to Maslon as Maslon and rarely say the full name. It’s good. It’s smart.”
Indeed, several years ago the Minneapolis firm Fredrikson & Byron de-emphasized the Byron portion of its name and made Fredrikson the dominant presence in outside communications, including its website. Similarly Dorsey & Whitney emphasizes Dorsey on its business links.
In the case of the Maslon firm, all of the founding partners are deceased.
“I talked to the family members [of the founders], and everybody was fine with it,” said Bill Pentelovitch, a 40-year veteran litigator and unofficial firm historian. “I was a little nervous about having those conversations, but Betty Borman [wife of founder Marvin Borman] said, ‘It’s about time.’ ”
The Maslon firm has a long history in commercial law, including business and financial services, and a wide variety of litigation.
Recent cases involved the successful dismissal of a $250 million patent royalty claim against Medtronic and defeat of a motion to create a 37,000 member class action against 3M in a water contamination case in which 3M also prevailed on the merits of the case.
Clients include U.S. Bank, Famous Dave’s, Cold Spring Granite Co. and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
The firm’s founders cast significant footprints in the Twin Cities legal community.
Samuel Maslon was a Harvard Law School graduate who grew up poor on the North Side of Minneapolis, went to law school on a scholarship and became a boarder at the home of law professor Felix Frankfurter, who later became a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Maslon then clerked for Supreme Court legend Louis Brandeis before starting his practice in Minneapolis in 1923.
Hy Edelman went to law school at the University of Minnesota and helped draft the first anti-discrimination ordinance for the city of Minneapolis in the 1940s under then Mayor-Hubert H. Humphrey.
Borman was another graduate of Harvard Law and fought in the Pacific during World War II as a captain in the Marines. He partnered with Maslon in 1949. Besides law, Borman was an active participant in civic activities, serving as chair of such institutions as the United Way, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Mount Sinai Hospital and Temple Israel.
Irving R. Brand joined the firm in 1966 after a judicial career in which he was one of the youngest judges ever appointed to the old Minneapolis Municipal Court and the first Jewish judge in Hennepin District Court.
“These guys were tremendous attorneys,” Pentelovitch said.
In the 1950s, the Maslon firm was just one of three in the Twin Cities that would hire Jewish attorneys. The other two were Leonard Street and Deinard and the firm that became Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi.
As a result, many of Maslon’s early clients were Jewish-owned businesses, including North Central Airlines, liquor wholesaler Ed Phillips & Sons and Mount Sinai Hospital.
Today, the firm’s leaders know their midrange size with 80 attorneys makes them attractive to bigger out-of-state law firms that want a footprint in Minneapolis, but they don’t see a merger as part of their business model for growth.
“The decision was unanimous,” said Pentelovitch. “We’ll grow a bit, but we’ll never be as big as the big firms in town.”