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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ind. Law - "Baker & Daniels possible merger part of a larger legal trend"

Updating this ILB entry from August 12th, here are some interesting quotes from Marilyn Odendahl's story today in the Elkhart Truth:

If the Indianapolis-headquartered law firm does merge with Faegre & Benson, the combined entity would be among the 100 largest firms in the country with a large geographic footprint and a deep well of legal expertise, said William Henderson, professor of law and director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession at Indiana University, Bloomington. It would then be able to compete against other national firms for the sophisticated legal work from larger clients.

"In a few years, it would be interesting to see if the strategy really pays off," Henderson said, noting he thinks it will be successful.

Even before the recession began, demand for legal services has been gradually shifting as corporations across the country try to control their expenses, Henderson said. Consequently attorneys are having to jostle with each other - something they have not had to do in the past - to get a piece of the market.

On the whole, the need for legal services continues to increase, Henderson said, but the supply of sophisticated legal work like major mergers, regulatory compliance and securities litigation, has actually been static. And to get a slice of that sophisticated pie, regional firms have to become national firms or they will get squeezed out of the competition.

A merger between Baker & Daniels and Faegre & Benson would place the resulting attorney group on the same level as firms in Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles, Henderson said. Moreover, its Midwestern roots might give it an edge since the middle section of the country has a reputation of being practical, cost conscious and industrious.

However, a merger probably will not reduce the overhead the two firms currently have which could create opportunities for smaller shops, Henderson said. If the Baker & Daniels/Faegre & Benson firm raises its rates, local clients may bulk and go elsewhere for legal counsel.

The combined operation would have more than 800 attorneys and consultants and would have offices in Indiana, Chicago, Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, London, Shanghai and Beijing.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 16, 2011 10:11 AM
Posted to Indiana Law