Drinker Biddle, Gardner Carton Announce Merger Plans

Friday, December 1, 2006 - 00:00

In a move designed to create significant new opportunities for service to clients, the firms of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP have announced plans to combine.

The combined firm would have more than 650 lawyers in 12 offices nationwide, making it one of the 70 largest law firms in the United States. The combination also would expand the reach of the organization and strengthen a number of key practice areas while providing deeper resources to clients.

'Standing still is not an option in today's marketplace,' said Alfred W. Putnam Jr., who will be chairman of the merged organization, to be known as Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, with operations headquartered in Philadelphia. In Illinois and Wisconsin, the merged organization would do business as Drinker Biddle Gardner Carton LLP during a transition period.

Partners from each firm have voted to approve the merger, which would become effective January 1.

'To best serve clients involved in complex transactions or litigation, you need to have a critical mass of top-notch lawyers spread across the country,' Mr. Putnam said. 'The combination of these two storied firms - with more than 250 years of combined history - now provides clients with a major presence in the Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, DC and New Jersey markets, each with more than 100 professionals. That depth of skill and strength of knowledge, combined with our other offices on the West Coast, in New York and in Delaware, gives us more tools to provide the highest quality legal services for our clients.'

Gardner Carton Chairman Harold L. Kaplan added: 'This merger makes sense on every level. Our clients will now have a much greater depth of resources available to them. Our core practice areas will complement one another. And, from day one, this combination brings together two extremely talented and distinguished groups of lawyers committed to the profession, our communities and, most importantly, to our clients.'

Drinker Biddle would bring to the merger nationally recognized expertise of a wide range of traditional legal services, including antitrust, bankruptcy, class actions, products liability, securities, corporate, intellectual property, insurance, environmental, investment management, real estate, and mergers and acquisitions. In addition to its corporate and securities practice and its litigation experience, Gardner Carton would bring to the new firm its nationally known practices in healthcare, bankruptcy, human resources, real estate, intellectual property, investment management, and government relations.

Negotiations to merge the firms began in earnest earlier this year. From the beginning, the management teams recognized the firms' shared values of the highest standards in client service, legal work and professional ethics.

'We see the cultures of each firm coming together quite nicely,' said Andrew C. Kassner, the executive partner of the merged firm. 'We expect a seamless integration in our combined driver practices, and we are excited about growth in niche practices such as customs and international trade, education law, information technology and Native American tribal governments.'

One of the reasons the two firms were compatible was their dual presence in Chicago and Washington, DC. Plans are under way to combine office space in each of these cities. In Chicago, Drinker Biddle's lawyers would join more than 150 lawyers at Gardner Carton. In Washington, DC, Gardner lawyers and government relations professionals would combine with Drinker Biddle's offices at 15th and K streets to create an office of more than 100 professionals in the nation's capital. The combined firm also would have offices in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Milwaukee, Wilmington, DE, Florham Park, NJ, Princeton, NJ, Albany, NY, and Berwyn, PA.