Sanchez added that the firm has a "decent amount" of clients with ties to the Southeast and that employment law is a practice where having a broader geographic scope makes sense. "We're competing against national labor and employment boutiques in that area so we can expand our footprint. But the No. 1 reason [for the Atlanta office] is John Wymer -- the quality of the guy."
Sherman & Howard doesn't have the bureaucracy of many large firms, Wymer said. The firm has no committees, he added, other than its executive committee.
"Lawyers have become obsessed with the business part of their practice, I think to some extent to the detriment of the profession part of the practice. The obsession with PPP is unfortunate," he added. "At Sherman & Howard, we are lawyers first."
As for rates, Wymer said, "It's very difficult to charge what California and New York charge in Atlanta, especially in labor and employment law."
More rate flexibility means more opportunities to train younger lawyers, he added. "You have to be willing to do insurance defense to train new lawyers -- and you're priced out of it at big firms. I think it's critical to have those cases," he said. "Do you make a lot of money? No. Do you develop great lawyers and get them experience? Yes -- which you can't do at $750 an hour.
"New lawyers deserve the opportunity to learn to be an attorney instead of a cog in the wheel in some massive case," Wymer said.
Sanchez said the "whole thrust" for the 21 years that he's been in charge of Sherman & Howard has been to "free people up to be as good as they can be and not get in their way with bureaucracy and overwhelming overhead.
"We like our model. It's one of the reasons people stay here," he said, adding that only five of the firm's equity partners have left for other firms over his two-decade tenure as managing member.
Wymer said he plans to keep practicing for a long time, adding that he still has three children in high school and college. He brings clients with him, including Miller Coors; Alpharetta, Ga., battery manufacturer XI Technologies; and South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co., and said he hopes to expand work from Sherman & Howard's client base to east of the Mississippi.
Wymer said the firm would like to make Atlanta a full-service office and he's talking to lawyers in different disciplines, adding that his most pressing need is to add a couple of associates to help with his own practice.