Minneapolis-based Briggs and Morgan has agreed to merge with Taft Stettinius & Hollister, a Midwest law firm with large offices in Indianapolis, Chicago and Cincinnati.
Briggs and Morgan partners approved the merger Thursday. It is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
The combined firm will take the Taft name and include 600 lawyers. The Minneapolis office of Briggs, with 130 lawyers, will be the largest of the combined Taft firm’s 12 offices. There is no cash changing hands as a result of the merger.
Steve Ryan, 50, managing partner at Briggs, will be partner-in-charge of the Twin Cities area.
“The idea to join forces with Taft was driven by our clients and the desire to not just meet but anticipate their needs,” Ryan said in a news release.
In an interview, Ryan said the firm’s role in the Twin Cities business community and its charitable endeavors in the broader community will continue. “We plan to expand in the Twin Cities, not contract,” he said.
Ryan said Briggs recently invested $12 million to remodel, expand and enhance technology in its IDS Tower headquarters.
Midsize law firms in the Twin Cities and nationally have merged in recent years to gain scale, practice and geographic diversity to better compete with huge firms.
Two of the biggest here include the 2011 merger of Faegre & Benson with Baker & Daniels of Indianapolis to form Faegre Baker Daniels, a deal that involved 770 attorneys. Two years later, Stinson Morrison Hecker of Kansas City combined with Leonard, Street and Deinard to form what is now called Stinson, a merger that involved 525 attorneys.
The bet is that mid-country firms, which may charge hundreds of dollars less per hour than the $1,200-or-more charged by coastal firms, can provide the depth and expertise sophisticated clients want at less expense.
Briggs’ clients include Xcel Energy, U.S. Bancorp, the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins and Patterson Cos. It shares some regional and national clients with Taft.
“We’ve taken a purposeful approach … that has been years in the making,” Ryan said. “We talked to dozens of firms. This is not financial engineering. This is an exciting and dynamic strategy that brings two thriving firms together.”
Taft has put itself together over several years through several mergers. The partners are betting that one plus one will equal 2.5. For example, Taft is particularly strong in data services and privacy, which should benefit some existing Briggs clients and others in the Twin Cities market. Taft has added attorneys in Chicago since it acquired a predecessor firm.
Briggs and Morgan was formed in 1960 with the merger of two prominent St. Paul firms that traced their roots back to the 1880s and included clients in the lumber and iron ore industries, according to the firm’s website. Long based in St. Paul, Briggs and Morgan gradually drifted west after opening its Minneapolis office in the IDS in 1979.
Ann Rainhart, 48, chief operating officer at Briggs, will serve as chief strategy officer for the consolidated firm. She said the merger should make the consolidated firm stronger in its pursuit of the “upper middle market” of public companies and larger private companies and their executives that have “complex legal needs.”
Rainhart said the firm has been successful in attracting and retaining the talent it wants with competitive pay and also investing in innovation, diversity, work-life balance and community service.
“Briggs is a highly respected firm thanks to its visionary leadership, great attorneys and exceptional staff,” said Robert Hicks, Taft’s managing partner. The Briggs team is second to none in terms of being in touch with client needs and delivering strong legal services.”