As the Minneapolis/St. Paul legal community already knows, if not the entire state and the national legal community, the Minnesota law firm of Briggs & Morgan is being devoured by another midwest law firm (without a previous presence in Minnesota): Taft Stettinius & Hollister.
Of course, the law firms do not characterize the transaction as Taft devouring Briggs. It is described as “merger,” leading us all to wonder who, in affect is acquiring whom. That is, where will the power lie in the new merged law firm? Someone has to run the new firm, right? There can only be one hierarchy when two businesses are merged. Certainly, the new firm partners will all share in decision-making but many decisions the new firm will face are “zero sum.” Who will stay on as general counsel to the new firm? Who will run IT? Etc., etc., etc.
For us outsiders, the most obvious “tell” as to who will probably be calling the shots is the name of the new firm, “Taft.”
Another indication, somewhat harder for the public to see, is illustrated in the attached documents (here and here). That is, how does it play out when a Briggs client finds itself directly adverse to a Taft client in litigation? Whose client stays the new firm’s client of the newly formed firm?
You guessed right.
We have heard all kinds of off-the-record gripes, laments, squawks, whining, complaints, and protests from dear friends at other large Minnesota firms that have, in recent years, “joined forces” and merged with other larger law firms.
It is simply inevitable that surrendering power smarts. On the other hand, the idea, of course, is that these irritations will be dramatically offset by more money as the newly formed firms exploit economies of scale, open up new markets, “cross-sell,” and so on. May their growing pains be fleeting and may their fortunes flourish.
(By the way, LEVENTHAL pllc is open to devouring one or two international legal powerhouses if the price is right. AMLAW 100 take note.)