Drinker Biddle & Reath, the 170-year-old Philadelphia law firm with a national reach, is vastly expanding its geographical footprint with an announcement that it will combine with the Midwestern firm Faegre Baker Daniels.
The street name of the new firm will be Faegre Drinker. The “merger of equals,” announced Tuesday, becomes official on Feb. 1.
The combined firm -- Faegre Drinker Biddle and Reath LLP -- will feature more than 1,300 attorneys and consultants in 22 locations across the United States, China, and the United Kingdom. Faegre Drinker will become one of the nation’s 50 largest firms with a projected gross income of $1 billion.
“We’ll be able to compete with anyone, anywhere,” said Drinker Biddle’s CEO, Andrew Kassner. “So if I sound excited about this, it’s because I am.”
Kassner will serve as cochair of Faegre Drinker. Tom Froehle, the current CEO of Faegre, also will serve as cochair. The new entity will not be headquartered in one city, Kassner said, but its largest offices will include sites in Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Washington.
Drinker has a strong presence along the East Coast, with major nodes in Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Washington, Kassner said. It also has outposts in Dallas and San Francisco.
Faegre, the bigger of the two combining firms, is a Midwestern power with a significant presence in Denver, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Silicon Valley. It also brings three international offices to the corporate marriage -- in London, Beijing, and Shanghai.
Jane Koehl of Drinker will be chief operating officer of the combined firm and member of the leadership team.
After intensive planning, the two firms found they were compatible. They faced a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” and could leverage a merger for “transformational” strategic growth.
“We have similar cultures and values,” said Kassner. “We call it ‘excellence without arrogance.’ ”
Senior officers will reside in different metros, which explains why the combined firm isn’t declaring one city its headquarters. “That way we get the best access to talent,” Kassner said. “Our practice leaders are based throughout the country.”
Kassner will remain based in Philadelphia but is expecting to travel extensively next year to meet with partners all over the globe.
He skirted the topic of potential job redundancies, focusing instead on growth.
Overlapping offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington will be combined. But the firm will add new skills and practice areas.
Drinker is known for its focus on financial services, insurance, health and life sciences, intellectual property, and retail. In addition to financial services and health and life sciences, Faegre brings expertise in food, agribusiness, and natural resources to the merger. Both firms feature sophisticated corporate practices and combined will have 220 corporate attorneys. The four largest practices of both firms are litigation, corporate, intellectual property, and products.
“Our view is that we’ll be able to do more for clients,” Kassner said. "We need to put more resources such as technology and IT than we did 10 years ago. We already have data scientists, data analysts, and professionals who are specialists in information governance. Our clients need those services.
“Both firms need to be prepared to decide what do we need to support our professionals and what infrastructure do we need to support our clients.”
Executive partners will include Faegre’s David Barrett, Gina Kastel, and Jack Sperber, and Drinker’s Bill Connolly and Judy Reich.
“People are asking me what this means for our Philadelphia presence,” Kassner said. "DBR has been a standard-bearer in Philadelphia for almost two centuries. We are committed to our community. This combination will allow us to do more than we could do separately. We’ll be able to recruit talent in this area and serve clients in this region with more services.
“This is a great day for Philadelphia,” he said.