It may be the “Foley” law firm you’ve never heard of. There’s Foley & Lardner and Foley Hoag, and then there’s Foley & Mansfield. The 130-attorney firm based in Minneapolis started 23 years ago as a litigation shop, representing mainly defendants in asbestos cases. Today, it has offices in eight other cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, and has practices in bankruptcy, corporate finance and environmental law. Clients have included Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp., Marquette Transportation Finance LLC and Calaveras Asbestos Ltd. 

The National Law Journal recently spoke with managing partner Kyle Mansfield to get his perspective on how a midsize firm competes with bigger competitors in the Minneapolis area and elsewhere. In the past five years, Kutak Rock; Stoel Rives; Ogletree, Deakins, Nash Smoak & Stewart; and Barnes & Thornburg have elbowed into the Twin Cities market.

Mansfield wouldn’t provide specifics on the firm’s financials, but said Foley & Mansfield is projecting a 10 to 15 percent increase into 2013. His responses were edited for clarity and brevity.

NLJ: Does your firm ever get mistaken for the “other” Foley firms?

Mansfield: Our largest client once sent a check to Foley & Lardner. That was bad.

NLJ: Several big law firms have moved into Minneapolis, especially in since 2007. How has it affected your firm?

Mansfield: We’re positioned differently from those firms. We tend to have more local and regional clients. Our sweet spot is $5 to $50 million clients, although some are much larger, some much smaller. Those firms are coming in with greater overhead and bigger fee structures that they have to stick with.

NLJ: I would imagine that there’s a desire among local clients to send work to the local folks.

Mansfield: There’s still a very strong stick-together, Midwestern ethic. We have a lot of very strong relationships. We’re also big fans of alternative fee arrangements. Corporate counsel and in-house people are looking for ways to budget.

NLJ: The firm has grown from 92 to 130 attorneys in five years. To what do you attribute that growth?

Mansfield: We haven’t had a lot of lateral hires. We’ve really grown from within.

NLJ: But you had a merger this year, too, right?

Mansfield: We brought on [three attorneys from] Skjold Parrington in May. They brought in a securities practice and business litigation.

NLJ: Where do you see the firm headed?

Mansfield: When the firm started, asbestos litigation was exploding. That drove the early growth of this firm. We also did insurance coverage and construction defect. More business litigation, more transaction work is the future.

Leigh Jones can be contacted at ljones@alm.com.