Benesch closing Indy office; attorneys moving to another firm

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The Indianapolis office of Cleveland-based law firm Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP plans to close by the end of April, with nearly all of its attorneys migrating to Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, attorneys from both major firms have confirmed.

Benesch currently has 15 attorneys—11 partners and four associates, plus one of counsel.

Jeff Kosc, managing partner of the Indianapolis Benesch office, said 14 attorneys at the firm will  migrate to Taft by the end of April. He described the move as a cooperative, friendly and orderly transition. He said news of the move to Taft was announced to the Benesch office last week.

“We had a great relationship with Benesch, but we've been unable to grow the office in Indianapolis,” Kosc said. “We're looking to move to a larger platform here in Indy.”

Brad Schwer, partner-in-charge of the Indianapolis office of Taft, said the additions will boost Taft in several areas, including Taft's intellectual property, creditors rights and litigation practices, among others.

“In my opinion, it jumps up our real estate group,” Schwer added. “Now with the addition of (the attorneys), we become one of the preeminent groups in the city.”

In addition to the groups Schwer mentioned, Benesch attorneys also will supplement Taft's municipal services practice, Kosc said.

“We're thankful to our colleagues at Benesch and grateful for the time we had with Benesch,” Kosc said.

The move will give Taft to about 120 lawyers in Indianapolis, solidifying its position as the fourth-largest law firm in the market, Schwer said.

“We just couldn't be happier to bring them on board,” Schwer said of the partners and associates moving to Taft. “It's a perfect fit for them, and it's a perfect fit for us.”

Kosc agreed. Taft, he said, “was a great fit in terms of practices, and culturally, we thought it was a great fit as well. … They’re a growing and dynamic firm in this market, and we’re excited.”

Schwer noted that in addition to the real estate expertise his firm will gain, that practice is accentuated by overlapping practices such as IP and Taft's strong mergers-and-acquisitions practice. He also said Taft's recent announcement that it was moving to a single-tier equity-partner structure will make the firm attractive to additional lateral moves.

These factors make Taft “very attractive across the board” in attracting talent, Schwer said.

Both Taft and Benesch are relative newcomers in the Indianapolis legal market. Cincinnati-based Taft merged with the much larger Sommer Barnard practice in 2008. Sommer Barnard had 64 partners and a total of 103 lawyers at the time of the merger, according to IBJ research.

Benesch entered the Indianapolis market in 2010, acquiring one of Indianapolis' oldest firms, Dann Pecar Newman & Kleiman, just shy of Dann Pecar's 100th anniversary. When the merger was announced, the local firm initally was named Benesch/Dan Pecar and boasted 29 attorneys.

But the Benesch Indianapolis office's numbers declined rather than grew since the acquisition.

In a statement issued last week, Benesch managing partner Gregg Eisenberg did not acknowledge the Indianapolis office was closing. Rather, the statement led off by touting Benesch's “remarkable growth of more than 60 percent” and “a strong and growing client base.

“Some Benesch team members in Indianapolis have made the decision to move their practice,” the brief statement continued. “All of us wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”

“This is a great opportunity for our colleagues in Indianapolis, while also a benefit for Benesch, too, as we continue our growth plans,” Eisenberg said in the statement. “All our futures are bright as we continue providing excellent service to all our clients.”

Taft boasts more than 400 employees firm-wide in 10 offices from Delaware to Phoenix. Including the Indianapolis office, Benesch counts more than 200 attorneys in eight offices in the Midwest, on the East Coast, and in Shanghai, China.

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