Minneapolis law firm Faegre Baker Daniels and Philadelphia law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath are discussing a possible merger that would create one of the 50 largest law firms in the country.
The two firms issued a joint statement that the discussions are in progress but said they have nothing further to report at this time.
The discussions were first reported Wednesday by American Lawyer. By that publication’s estimates, the combined firm would be in the nation’s Top 50 based on financial performances last year. The new firm could have from 1,200 to 1,325 lawyers.
Faegre Baker Daniels is the larger of the two firms, with 750 lawyers and more than a dozen offices in cities from Minneapolis and Indianapolis to Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Beijing and London.
Faegre Baker Daniels formed in 2012 with the merger between Minneapolis firm Faegre & Benson and the Indianapolis firm Baker & Daniels. Faegre & Benson was formed in 1886 as Cobb & Wheelwright and was the largest firm in Minnesota even before the merger. Baker & Daniels’ history dates back to 1863, with one of its founders Thomas Hendricks, a former vice president of the United States and governor of Indiana.
Drinker Biddle’s roots trace to 1849, and it currently has 575 lawyers and 12 offices in cities from Chicago and Dallas to L.A., San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C.
There have been a growing number of law-firm mergers in the past several years as firms look to increase in size and service areas. Minneapolis firms have been attractive partners because of the base of large corporate headquarters.
The Philadelphia legal scene also is changing quickly. The Philadelphia Business Journal in its reporting on the Faegre-Drinker deal said there also were merger talks between Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton and Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders that, if combined, would create a 1,000-lawyer firm.
In 2018, there were 106 law-firm mergers or acquisitions, the largest number of deals in the last decade, according to Altman Weil Inc., a management-consulting firm for the legal community. In the first three quarters of 2019 it has reported 85 law-firm mergers and acquisitions.
Earlier this year, two other large Minneapolis firms announced mergers.
In August, Briggs and Morgan agreed to merge with Taft Stettinius & Hollister, a Midwest law firm with large offices in Indianapolis, Chicago and Cincinnati. That merger will be effective Jan. 1. That new firm will have 600 lawyers in 12 U.S. offices.
At the end of October, the oldest continuing law firm in Minneapolis, Gray Plant Mooty, agreed to merge with Lathrop Gage, a firm based in Kansas City. That deal will also become effective at the start of the new year. The new firm, to be called Lathrop GPM LLP, will have 400 lawyers in 14 offices.
In 2018, Minneapolis-based Lindquist & Vennum also merged with a Philadelphia firm, Ballard Spahr. That combined firm now has about 650 lawyers in 15 offices.
Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926