Law Firms

Powell Goldstein to Merge with Bryan Cave and Give up its Name

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The partnerships of Powell Goldstein and Bryan Cave have voted to merge the two law firms, giving Bryan Cave a presence in the southeast and the Atlanta-based Powell Goldstein an international platform.

Powell Goldstein’s name will be retained only in the merged firm’s Atlanta office, and only temporarily, according to a lengthy story in the Fulton County Daily Report. The Atlanta office will be known as Bryan Cave-Powell Goldstein for two years. The merger takes effect in January, when Powell Goldstein will mark its 100th birthday.

Powell Goldstein’s chairman, James McAlpin Jr., called the merger “a transformational event” for his firm in an interview with the Fulton County Daily Report. “It propels us into a different league.”

The new firm will have 1,165 lawyers, the story says. In 2007 the combined revenue of the two firms was $602 million, which would put the merged firm at number 45 in the Am Law 200 rankings.

McAlpin and two other Powell Goldstein lawyers will join Bryan Cave’s executive committee. Thomas McNeill will continue as managing partner of the Atlanta office.

McAlpin took over as Powell Goldstein chairman in 2004 and sought to strengthen the firm by cutting less productive partners and hiring several rainmaking lateral partners, the story says. He also decided to expand the firm geographically. Powell Goldstein had offices only in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., until 2006 when it opened an office in Dallas, according to the story. It added another office in Charlotte, N.C., this year.

But the firm suffered a big hit last year, the story says. It lost one of its biggest institutional clients, Northside Hospital, when six health-care partners jumped to McKenna Long & Aldridge. Meanwhile the firm was losing partners to other firms, dropping from 256 lawyers to 220 lawyers this year. The firm’s leadership decided to seek a merger partner.,

It began discussions with Bryan Cave in July after previous talks with Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice fell apart in January.

McAlpin says the culture of the two firms and their billing rates are compatible. “There will be no sticker shock for our clients,” he told the Fulton County Daily Report.

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