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With the merger between Drinker Biddle & Reath and Chicago’s Gardner Carton & Douglas finalized, the new entity is looking to structure itself more like the 640-attorney firm it has become. The changes come in the form of department reorganization and the addition of a regional managing partner in Philadelphia. For about eight years the firm has structured its practices under the two-department umbrella of business and litigation. Executive partner Andrew C. Kassner said that system was created when the firm had about 250 attorneys. With the growth in its attorney roster and practice area depth, the firm didn’t want the practice group leaders all reporting to just one or two senior management officials, he said. The firm has done away with its two departments and put in its place 14 national practice groups. “It’s an evolution, not a revolution,” Kassner said of the changes. The size of some of the practice groups was a major factor in making these changes. The firm’s intellectual property group, for example, will have more than 80 attorneys. Kassner said the day-to-day operations of a group that size will have to be handled by leaders of the practice groups. Other additional day-to-day management issues will be given to lawyers through their roles on firm committees such as the business development, practice management and professional development committees. Wilson M. Brown III was named as chairman of the commercial litigation group, and John Dames of the firm’s Chicago office will continue to run the firm’s products liability group, the firm said. Other practice group leaders will include Seamus C. Duffy in the firm’s communications litigation group, John G. Smith in the intellectual property group and Neil S. Olderman of the Chicago office in the health care practice. The reorganization has not only expanded the number of practice groups, but also moved some practice areas around to have better cross-selling and client team development opportunities. Gardner Carton brought a well-known health care practice to Drinker Biddle, Kassner said. Drinker Biddle already had an expertise in tax-exempt finance work, he said, which is an area often needed by companies in the health care industry. Those groups were placed together in the new firm structure. Kassner said the firm’s business development committee is trying to find matches like these post-merger, giving the firm an opportunity to look at each group and find the best fit. He said there might be mid-term changes as the integration process continues. The 14 new departments within the firm are corporate and securities, corporate restructuring, intellectual property, investment management, health, commercial litigation, communications litigation, products liability and mass tort, environmental, insurance, human resources law, government and regulatory affairs, real estate and a private client group. With Philadelphia serving as the headquarters of Drinker Biddle and housing the majority of its senior management, the firm never felt the need to have an office managing partner in Philadelphia. Each of the firm’s other offices has had that position, and the firm felt the merger was a good time to change that. Litigator Stephen C. Baker has been named the firm’s first regional partner in charge of the Philadelphia office in addition to his position as the chairman of the firm’s insurance group. Baker said the job isn’t as much administrative in nature as it is a leadership position in which he hopes to be the trustee of the firm’s culture and pass that on to the next generation of lawyers. Baker will also focus on external matters including outreach to the local business community, identifying potential lateral hires and developing business opportunities. Drinker Biddle has been involved with City Year of Philadelphia, a community-service organization that provides tutoring to local elementary and high schools, and Baker said he wants to increase the firm’s involvement during his tenure. Baker’s tenure at Drinker Biddle has been just about six years, which was why he was “flattered” when Kassner and firm chairman Alfred W. Putnam Jr. asked him to fill the new position, he said. Baker spent 21 years at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, from 1980 to 2001, before joining Drinker Biddle. He said he came in part because of the firm’s history and views it as one of his primary duties to uphold that culture – particularly through the firm’s current integration process. There is no specified term length for the position, Baker said, and he doesn’t anticipate it placing a burden on his practice. Baker focuses his practice on the representation of insurance company groups in business litigation, regulatory, coverage and claim matters. “I actually expect this ultimately to enhance my practice,” he said. While there may be a short-term drain, Baker said the business development aspect of his new position could open up new opportunities for his practice. Drinker Biddle’s merger with Gardner Carton gives the firm 640 attorneys in 12 offices across the country. The firm will have more than 100 attorneys in its Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, D.C., offices. In Chicago and Milwaukee, the firm will be known as Drinker Biddle Gardner Carton until 2008.

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