With a combined 1,300-plus attorneys and consultants in 22 offices across the U.S., China and the United Kingdom, Faegre Drinker will be one of the country’s 50 largest law firms based on size and projected gross revenue of nearly $1 billion.
Drinker Biddle partner Andrew Joseph, based in the firm’s Florham Park office, called the combination “a win-win for everyone and a really good opportunity.”
“Right now our offices in New Jersey are home to some of our more significant drive practices. Given the combination, we’re positioned better than many of our peer firms in the state,” Joseph said. “One of them is that we have that deep New Jersey history where our lawyers are very knowledgeable about the state courts. We’re well respected here.”
Drinker Biddle has two offices in New Jersey in Princeton and the other in Florham Park. The closest FaegreBD office is in Washington, D.C.
“[This combination] gives us a greater ability to rely on more than 1,000 lawyers in different offices, different practice areas where we can be a full service firm to our clients, [and allows us to] service them in areas we might not have previously been able to do, both from a specialty standpoint and a geography standpoint,” he said.
Joseph’s been through a firm merger before, but none of this magnitude, he said. He joined sexagenarian firm Shanley & Fisher in 1996, and the firm joined with Drinker Biddle in 1999.
“I’ve been here for the whole ride,” he said. “We’ve been through some really successful combinations and each of them has been terrific for the firm. This is the biggest and hopefully will be the best.”
The combination will add depth and breadth of experience in the firm’s four largest practice areas: corporate, business litigation, product liability and intellectual property.
Both the corporate and business litigation teams will include more than 200 lawyers worldwide, and product liability and intellectual property lawyers will both number approximately 150. Faegre Drinker will have new practice capabilities and deeper regulatory expertise across areas including employee benefits, finance and restructuring, government advocacy, health, insurance, investment management, labor and employment, private client, and real estate.
“There are a number of synergies. If you look at the practice areas throughout the two firms, we both have strong health care life sciences practices. They have a really solid class action bench where there’s overlap in the type of work we both do,” Joseph said.
Conversations about the combination began almost two years ago between Drinker Biddle Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andy Kassner and Faegre Baker Daniels Chair and Managing Partner Tom Froehle.
“Andy has made it one of his initiatives to always be out there and looking at different opportunities to improve our clients services. The first year [of conversations] was spent with them getting to know each other, and it’s been the last year where the conversation has really started to expand to smaller groups within the firms,” Joseph said.
“It’s been a long term play and I think before we really dipped our toes into the water we wanted to make sure that culturally and from a client perspective it was something that made sense,” Joseph said. “It was at that point, once we were all comfortable, that the circle became wider and we started to introduce more people to each other at both of the firms.”
Before the firms officially merge in February there’s a great deal of administrative work that needs to be done, according to Joseph, such as merging billing systems and harmonizing IT. Attorneys at both firms will have the opportunity to spend time with each other, he said, to make sure the opportunity to get to know each other is there so that they’re not working with a bunch of strangers come February.
He’s excited about that part.
“I love the firm and I spend a lot of time myself getting to know a number of folks in [FaegreBD’s] litigation group in particular,” Joseph said. “I’m really impressed with everyone I’ve met in person and very excited for what the future holds.”