(Photo by Henryk Sadura)
In a move that makes it the latest of a half-dozen Kansas City, Mo.-based firms to enter the Colorado market, Shook, Hardy & Bacon on Sunday officially combined with five-lawyer litigation boutique Sander, Ingebretsen & Wake.
As a result of the tie-up, Sander Ingebretsen becomes Shook Hardy’s outpost in the Mile High City and its 12th office overall. Name partners Kirk Ingebretsen and Richard “Chip” Sander join the Am Law 200 firm as Denver managing partner and partner, respectively. Dan Rohner and Dan Wake get of counsel roles, and Kali Backer joins as an associate.
Shook Hardy chairman John Murphy said he expects the Denver attorneys coming aboard to give his firm—well-known for its product liability practice, particularly in the area of tobacco-related litigation—specialized trial expertise in banking and financial services matters.
“This gives us an office in a thriving part of the country and more commercial litigation depth with lawyers that have national reputations,” Murphy said. “It adds to our ability to represent our clients in complex litigation.”
In a news release announcing the move, Sander said: “We look forward to SCB’s flexible, cost-effective staffing model.” He added that its “back-office litigation support will allow us to more effectively handle larger-scale cases, and its administrative support will free up our time to focus more on clients.”
For Shook Hardy, the addition of Sander Ingebretsen comes on the heels of a financially challenging year. Gross revenue dipped 2.7 percent, to $308.5 million—a decline that helped drop the firm out of The Am Law 100 for the first time in 17 years. Profits per equity partner, meanwhile, were down 7.8 percent, to $830,000.
By extending its reach into Denver, Shook Hardy joins something of a stampede of large Kansas City-based firms that have snapped up groups of lawyers or entire local shops in Colorado’s biggest city in recent years. Lathrop & Gage added a Greenlee Sullivan team with five intellectual property partners in 2012; the firm now known as Stinson Leonard Street brought on nine lawyers from Jones & Kellera the same year; Polsinelli acquired 13-member Hensley Kim in 2011; and Husch Blackwell added 24 attorneys from Denver’s Jacobs Chase, also in 2011.
With Denver at its heart, the Colorado economy has seen a surge in job growth of late to the point that it is now among the top five states in that category, according to the Colorado Business Outlook 2014 report produced by the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business [PDF]. The improving economic climate is also being helped along by a rebound in the local housing market and the relatively low cost of doing business in Colorado, the report states.
Denver also set new tourism and tax records from 2012 to 2014, according to the Leeds School report. Even those marks may soon be shattered now that investors and tourists are flocking to the state in large numbers since it legalized the recreational use of marijuana. At least one Shook Hardy attorney appears to see potential business opportunities for lawyers in the state’s marijuana boom. Earlier this month, product liability partner Connor Sears published a paper about the potential for marijuana-related products to stir product liability lawsuits [PDF].