Two law firms, including a Chicago practice opening an Indianapolis office, are scooping up attorneys from Stewart & Irwin PC as the 92-year-old local legal institution prepares to close its doors.
Stewart & Irwin has notified current staff and former firm members of its plans to close, sources tell IBJ. Founded in 1922, the general practice firm had 22 lawyers as of April and ranked as the city’s 21st-largest firm, according to IBJ research.
Calls to the firm seeking comment on the closing were not returned. But at least half its lawyers already have left or will be leaving for other firms. Five are launching a local office for Chicago-based SmithAmundsen while six more are preparing to join local rival Katz & Korin PC on June 1.
Stewart & Irwin's problems don't end there, however. Attorney Edward Scott Treadway, who worked on contract for the firm until 2010, is suing it in an attempt to recover $200,000 in fees, according to a lawsuit filed May 17 in Marion Superior Court.
Treadway alleges Stewart & Irwin committed breach of contract, in addition to other charges, by withholding the fees from him.
Meanwhile, Stewart & Irwin lawyers Constance Lindman, Dennis Schnell, Eric Lamb, Alyssa Rogers and Suzanne Newcomb have jumped ship to SmithAmundsen. Lindman, Schell and Lamb comprised Stewart & Irwin’s entire intellectual property team, according to a SmithAmundsen press release.
Its new Indianapolis office is in Capital Center’s south tower at 201 N. Illinois St. Overall, SmithAmundsen has more than 150 lawyers in four Illinois offices and outposts in Milwaukee and St. Louis.
SmithAmundsen is the latest in a string of out-of-state firms to put down stakes in Indianapolis in recent years, as the city has become more attractive to outside rivals.
Local competitor Katz & Korin PC also is set to benefit from Stewart & Irwin's demise. Six S&I lawyers will join that firm June 1, Katz partner Sally Zweig said.
They are Jim Brauer, Donn Wray, Glenn Bowman, Michele Henderson, Nick Gahl and Marc Menkveld.
Adding six lawyers from Stewart & Irwin will result in a major expansion of the small, 15-member firm.
“It’s a big bite for us,” Zweig said. “But these folks were an excellent fit for us.”
The additions enable Katz & Korin to bring more depth to its litigation and transaction practices, as well as add new areas such as automotive, agri-business and environmental, and professional liability defense, she said.
Katz & Korin also is bringing on lawyer Michael D. Head, who previously had been with the firm before joining a small group of lawyers that is disbanding.
Partners Ronald Katz and Offer Korin founded the firm in 1994.