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Fox Rothschild Expanding into Southeast in its Largest Merger Yet

Sept. 21, 2018, 8:15 PM

In its largest merger yet, Fox Rothschild will soon be scooping up all 130 attorneys of Smith Moore Leatherwood, significantly expanding the firm’s presence into the southeastern U.S.

The Nov. 1 merger, which will add six new offices in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to Fox Rothschild, is the latest in a series of regional expansions for the Philadelphia-based firm.

Once completed, Fox Rothschild will have 27 locations and more than 900 attorneys, according to the firm.

“Expanding our footprint in the Southeast through this merger is an important milestone for the firm,” Fox Rothschild chair Mark L. Silow said in a statement. “We have explored opportunities in this region for many years.”

In addition to the geographic expansion, the merger also boosts Fox Rothschild’s manufacturing, clean energy, transportation and logistics practice areas, according to the firm.

Smith Moore Leatherwood, once a small regional firm, will now step into the AmLaw 100.

Julie Theall Earp, managing partner of Smith Moore Leatherwood, said the firm searched for three years and undertook a “very deliberate study of options” before settling on Fox Rothschild.

“For some time now we have thought that many of our clients would benefit if we had a broader geographic reach,” she told Bloomberg Law in an email. “And, like other firms our size, we have recognized the need to keep up with advances in technology and other infrastructure so that we can continue to deliver the efficient services that our clients expect.”

Following the merger, Theall Earp and two other Smith Moore Leatherwood partners will assume roles on Fox Rothschild’s executive committee, she said.

Since 2015, Fox Rothschild has merged with several regional firms based in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

“[The mergers] involved firms that really have a brand name in those markets, and where lawyers have deep roots in those communities,” Mark L. Morris, Fox’s firmwide managing partner, told Bloomberg Law.

He also said the merger with Smith Moore Leatherwood was an easy sell because of the firm’s culture. “They’re nice people,” he said. “That’s a big part of it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Russell-Kraft srussellkraft@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com