From left: George Menden, Mike Siavage and Larry Freiman. Menden-Freiman’s trusts and estates team fits with Siavage’s emerging company clients. (John Disney/Daily Report)
Business law boutiques Menden­Freiman and Siavage Law Group have merged, forming a 12-lawyer firm.
MendenFreiman, which is known for its trusts and estates practice, has expanded its business law capabilities with the addition of the four lawyers from Siavage Law Group, which represents startups and emerging companies, mostly in the tech industry.
Michael Siavage and Marc D’Annunzio joined MendenFreiman as partners, Frances-Ann Moran as counsel and Kara Williamson as an associate, effective Jan. 1.
Lawrence Freiman, who founded MendenFreiman with George Menden in 1997, said they had wanted to expand the firm’s corporate practice for some time. The firm serves as outside general counsel for many clients, handling day-to-day matters such as contracts and employment issues. Clients include a local IT staffing firm, Thompson Technologies; Zencos Consulting, a software consulting firm in Cary, N.C.; and Specialty Tile, headquartered in Atlanta.
“Corporate work requires a lot of people resources, and so we did not want to ask for business that we could not service,” Freiman said, adding that before the combination about half the firm’s practice was corporate work.
Freiman said Siavage Law’s focus on emerging companies fits well with Menden­Freiman’s trusts and estates practice. “We work with the principals of these types of companies on building their wealth in a very creative, tax-efficient way.”
“We are really tax lawyers at heart,” he added, explaining that tax planning considerations can determine how a business is structured. “This gives us the ability to add more depth to our corporate practice and to get into the emerging companies and emerging technologies space.”
Siavage has been a part of Atlanta’s tech law community since the 1990s. He was one of the founders of Red Hot Law Group, which sprang up amidst the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s, then was absorbed by McKenna Long & Aldridge in 2001. It was at McKenna that Siavage met D’Annunzio, whose practice focuses on the electronic payments industry.
Siavage Law Group launched in 2004 to work with startups and emerging tech companies. The firm serves as outside general counsel for many clients, while also handling larger M&A transactions. D’Annunzio represented a longtime client, e-commerce software maker EZPrints, in its $30 million sale to CafePress in December 2012.
Another firm client is Brightree, an Atlanta-based maker of business management software for home health care, hospice and other health care providers and vendors.
“We deal with folks from the initial startup and [corporate] structuring, financing and angel investment,” Siavage said, all the way through additional financing rounds, mergers, acquisitions and sales. Intellectual property licensing and protection is a big part of the practice, he added.
Most of the firm’s clients are tech companies, Siavage said, but it has a smattering of non-tech clients such as DaVinci’s Pizza and Fannin Brewing Co. in Blue Ridge. The craft brewer started selling its beer in 2012 and the firm is helping it raise financing to expand production.
Joining MendenFreiman gives the Siavage lawyers more bench strength so that they can handle larger corporate deals and tax issues, Siavage said. “A lot of our [corporate] structuring is tax intensive.”
“The main thing is the people,” he added. “I’ve had offers from big firms coming into Atlanta who’ve wanted us to be their corporate department. I’ve turned them down because relationships matter. I want to know the people and the culture.”
He said he started talking to Menden and Freiman about joining their firm last May. “We’ve had lots of communication before getting into this.”
The Siavage firm’s lawyers have relocated from their office at One Midtown Plaza to MendenFreiman’s office at Two Ravinia Drive, near Perimeter Mall.