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FaegreBD, Drinker Biddle to Merge Creating $950M Revenue Firm

Dec. 17, 2019, 11:17 PM

Faegre Baker Daniels and Drinker Biddle & Reath have confirmed they are merging, creating a new law firm with annual gross revenues expected to reach more than $950 million.

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath or Faegre Drinker, is projected by the merger partners to fall within the top 50 U.S-based firms by revenue. And with more than 1,300 attorneys and consultants working out of 22 offices, the two firms have said it would also become one of the nation’s top 50 by headcount.

Drinker Biddle has deep roots in Philadelphia, while FaegreBD has a long mid-western history and boasts outposts in London and China. Each firm will gain a presence in several new locations through the tie-up.

The firms first revealed back in November that they were discussing a merger.

Tied-Up

Now that the partnerships of both firms have approved the merger, operations are slated to begin Feb. 1.

The combined firm, which will include about 400 equity partners, will be co-chaired by Faegre Baker Daniels Chair and Managing Partner Tom Froehle, and Drinker Biddle & Reath Chairman and CEO Andy Kassner.

Froehle and Kassner told Bloomberg Law Dec. 17 that the merger was inspired by client feedback.

“Andy and I had both heard from clients repeatedly that they are talking about hiring fewer law firms, and they want law firms that can do a wide swath of work and who can do multiple engagements,” said Froehle. “So we do believe there’s something to having that breadth and depth.”

“With that said, bigger is hard, so it’s got to be better,” he continued. “This does allow us to serve clients better but we recognize we’re going to have to continue to hit that mark.”

‘Strength On Strength’

In the AmLaw rankings, Faegre Baker Daniels grew from $491 million in gross revenues in 2017 to almost $512.9 million in 2018. Year over year the firm dropped three spots in the rankings to 71st.

In the same time period, Drinker Biddle & Reath fell from $461.8 million in revenue to $449.7 million—while also dropping five spots in the rankings, from 74th to 79th.

Both firms’ leaders noted that the merger would allow the combined entity to build “strength on strength” in the types of law they practice. That includes strong financial services, and health and life sciences practices both firms currently maintain.

“In the area of our practices, this combination has something for everyone. All 13 of our firm’s practice groups are strengthened by the combination,” said Kassner.

The combined firms’ top practice, or “service” areas will include the business litigation and corporate teams, which will include 250 and 225 lawyers and consultants, respectively, according to the firms.

Kassner and Froehle, who said they’ve known each other for about two years, said they also came to realize their respective firms have compatible cultures.

Both firms believe in serving clients, “and frankly, practicing with excellence and not arrogance,” said Kassner. “In the end, culture wins every day and on Sundays.”

Combining Offices

The new firm combines offices in three cities where both predecessor firms already have a presence—Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington. Faegre Drinker’s largest offices in terms of headcount will be Chicago,Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Washington.

In the nation’s capital, the merger also have a home base for a new consulting offshoot. Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting.

Faegre Baker Daniels’ advocacy division will become Faegre Drinker Consulting. Drinker Biddle & Reath’s ancillary businesses, including its advocacy shop, The District Policy Group, will fold into the new consulting business.

The two firms’ leadership has traveled far and wide to keep attorneys and staff educated about the pending tie-up.

In November and December, Froehle and Kassner took a tour of 19 of both firms’ offices, to talk to staffers in town hall-style discussions, a spokeswoman said. The tour began after the respective firms’ board recommendations to consider the combination, she said.

Around the same time as FaegreBD and Drinker Biddle publicized their merger talks, fellow mid-sized firms Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton confirmed that they also had been discussing a possible tie-up.

Those two firms have not yet made further announcements about the status of a potential merger.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at sskolnik@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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