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Fox Rothschild to Merge in the Midwest

Dec. 14, 2015, 7:59 PM

In its largest merger to date, Fox Rothschild announced on Monday it has acquired the 82-lawyer Minneapolis-based law Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly, effective Jan. 4, 2016.

The merger will add 44 partners to Fox Rothschild and brings its total headcount to around 730 attorneys.

“We’ve had our eye on Minneapolis for a number of years,” said Mark Silow, firmwide managing partner of Fox Rothschild. “We’ve pursued other opportunities before. ... this just instantly seemed to make sense to all parties.”

Silow said Minneapolis’s mix of industrial, retail, medical and emerging tech companies made it an attractive market. Oppenheimer had similar financial metrics, including its billing rate structure and revenue per lawyer, plus a matching client profile — Fortune 1000, high net worth individuals and emerging tech — that made it a sensible merger partner.

According to its website , Oppenheimer is 129 years old and lists its core practices as commercial litigation, financial services, medical technology, mergers & acquisitions, real estate finance, and securities, with specialty practices in health care litigation, employee benefits, intellectual property and labor & employment.

With 82 lawyers all in Minneapolis, it will mark the second largest office in the firm behind Philadelphia, which has 110 attorneys as well as most of the firm’s back office personnel. The firm’s Princeton, New Jersey office has around 75 attorneys, according to the Fox Rothschild website.

In the past decade, Fox Rothschild has grown from approximately 250 to 700-plus attorneys with offices in 12 states around the country including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and the District of Columbia. During that time, it had about a half-dozen mergers including a 53-attorney firm in New Jersey in 2006.

More recently, in 2014, it acquired the 17-lawyer David & Goodman in Dallas. It also acquired laterals and grew organcially, according to Silow.

The strategy is create a national footprint and attain “critical mass” in all of its offices — meaning 25 to 30 attorneys. Large clients expect a law firm to not only have a depth in terms of their geographic location and their practice ranges.

“If you can’t project expertise or don’t have expertise,” said Silow, [clients] “may love you in one area of law but may be reluctant to use you in another area of law, and that always weakens the attorney-client relationship.”

Looking forward, he ruled out the idea of a “mega-merger” saying that can destroy the culture of both firms. Silow also said there are no immediate plans for overseas expansion.

(UPDATED: This story has been updated with more information about the headcount at Fox Rothschild.)