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Law Firm Launches Consulting Practice for Other Law Firms

Oct. 18, 2016, 1:31 PM

The law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson, which last year hired Dewey & LeBoeuf’s former general counsel, is launching a practice aimed at helping law firms avoid crises, implement succession planning and advise on full-fledged mergers.

The firm already advises lawyers and law firms on legal ethics and compliance issues, but this is the first time — perhaps for any law firm — to launch a consulting service aimed at the management of law firm business.

Hinshaw, founded in 1934, has a specialty in advising lawyers and law firms on legal malpractice cases and other issues involving attorney ethics, making the firm uniquely situated to offer the consulting services.

Leading the group is Donald L. Mrozek, who served as the Chicago-based firm’s chair between 1989 and 2015. He told Big Law Business that he decided to launch the consulting arm, called Consultants and Coaches for the Profession Practice, after he stepped down as chair 15 months ago.

“I said, ‘Well, I kind of miss managing a law firm, growing the law firm, and dealing with all the management issues,’” said Mrozek. “Secondly, I feel that as a result of the experiences I had, I had a lot to offer.”

Mrozek said he has so far landed a small law firm client but hopes to sell his services to large firms and even said he was open to advising on a law firm merger. This puts the law firm in competition with independent law firm consultants who typically consult on these issues, including Zeughauser Group, Altman Weil, and Hildebrandt Consulting.

Hinshaw ranked the No. 130 largest grossing law firm in 2015, according to The American Lawyer, with $225 million in revenue.

The new group at Hinshaw consists of Mrozek, partners Anthony E. Davis and J. Richard Supple Jr., as well as Janis M. Meyer, who joined Hinshaw in January 2015 after serving as general counsel of the defunct law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf between 2007 and 2012 when the firm went bankrupt.

In an interview, Meyer declined to discuss anything related to Dewey, but said she has been advising clients, including other law firms, on both ethics and management issues since joining Hinshaw. This includes navigating client conflicts and following the appropriate legal procedure in cases.

“I spend a lot of time counseling clients with respect to good risk management procedures,” said Meyer. “For example, what should they do in a situation where perhaps documents have been produced inadvertently?”

Both Meyer and Mrozek depicted a legal industry that remains in flux more than eight years after the recession.

“It seems there is an entire generation of law firm leaders retiring and I think that succession planning is huge,” said Mrozek.

In terms of how the group will charge, Mrozek said that he envisions charging on a project basis, as opposed to a success fee basis, which other industry consultants have used.

“When I was chairman, we were offered by one of the consultants to build in a success factor and reduce the project fee,” said Mrozek. “To me, in something like a merger, I don’t want that. Because maybe the best advice you can give is, ‘Don’t go forward.’”

According to Hinshaw, Mrozek was credited for much of the firm’s growth during his tenure. Under his watch, Hinshaw grew from a small Chicago-area law firm to a national firm with 25 offices, approximately 500 attorneys and more than $225 million in revenues, the firm said.

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