US national stalwarts Faegre Baker and Drinker Biddle to create top-50 firm

Duo to join forces in February in what they are portraying as merger of equals


National US firms Faegre Baker Daniels and Drinker Biddle & Reath have agreed to combine creating a top-50 firm with revenue approaching $1bn. The combined firm will open for business on 1 February under the name Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath and will boast 1,300 lawyers working out of 22 offices, including three international bases in London, Beijing and Shanghai.

The deal brings together two top 100 stalwarts, with Minneapolis-based Faegre Baker having grown out of the mid-west and Drinker Biddle’s heartlands rooted in Philadelphia.

This year Faegre Baker was placed at 71 in the Am Law 100 ranking, with revenue of $512.9m, while Drinker Biddle was just eight positions lower at 79, with $449.7m revenue.

Both firms had similar profit per equity partner figures at around $900k.

The footprints of the merging firms suggest a complementary national fit in that they share office locations in just three cities: Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.

Each arm of the firm will gain offices in key centres with Faegre Baker’s lawyers achieving access to bases in New York and San Francisco while Silicon Valley is added to the legacy Drinker Biddle’s network, along with the combined firm’s three international offices.

The merged firm’s five largest offices will be in Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Washington, DC and its largest practice areas will be corporate and business litigation, each with more than 200 lawyers, followed by product liability - 160 lawyers - and intellectual property (130).

The two firms cite key industry sectors as being financial services, food and agribusiness, health and life sciences, insurance and retail. The combined firm will be co-chaired by Drinker Biddle chairman and CEO Andy Kassner and Faegre Baker chair and managing partner Tom Froehle.

In a joint statement they said the merger would give the firms a broader platform to “accelerate our investments in talent, technology and innovation”.

Kassner said the merger “expands our geographic reach, enhances our key practices and provides us with Am Law 50 strength and scale” adding that the two firms shared a similar culture “with the overarching principles of civility, collegiality, respect and diversity”.

This will be Faegre Baker’s second major merger in recent history. The firm was created in 2012 with the combination of Faegre & Benson and Baker & Daniels.

According to Altman Weil MergerLine, the deal is easily the largest to have been struck in the US in 2019, the 2018 highlight having been St Louis-based Bryan Cave’s combination with London’s Berwin Leighton Paisner to create Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.

In November, it emerged that Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton and Atlanta-headquartered Troutman Sanders were in merger talks in a deal that would create an $800m firm.

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