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CHICAGO � National law firms that absorbed midsized Chicago firms last year are remolding them in their own image, taking in new partners and dispatching others as they build certain practice areas. Reed Smith, with large offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, folded in Sachnoff & Weaver; Philadelphia’s Drinker Biddle & Reath took in Chicago-based Gardner, Carton & Douglas; and Locke Liddell & Sapp of Texas merged with the near equally sized Lord, Bissell & Brook. “There is no reason to believe that any of them are failing,” said Joel Henning, a consultant at Hildebrandt International in Chicago whose firm worked on two of the three combinations. “There haven’t been major hemorrhages of important partners in any of them.” Since Reed Smith swallowed Sachnoff last March, the Chicago office has grown by about 5% to 140 attorneys, even though about 15 lawyers have left. Most of the exiting attorneys went to smaller firms, government work or in-house positions, while mainly senior lawyers have signed on, said Michael LoVallo, the former Sachnoff attorney who is now managing partner of the office. “The people who were leaving clearly were leaving because they didn’t want the large firm environment,” LoVallo said. The hiring of Russell Eggert from Mayer Brown is helping the firm build its energy practice, including the addition of new client Horizon Wind Energy, while litigator John Vishneski, also from Mayer Brown, and other recent recruits have built a significant insurance policyholder business, LoVallo said. Also, revenue from the firm’s private equity practice has risen as some of the Chicago office’s existing clients, such as Wind Point Partners, have used the resources and contacts of the larger Reed Smith network, LoVallo said. The firm expects to have 175 attorneys in the office within two years, he said. The new Chicago office of Drinker Biddle has lost few of the former Gardner Carton attorneys, though some left before the merger took effect in January 2007. A key defection this year was that of former Gardner Carton Chairman Harold Kaplan, who left for Foley & Lardner. “They’ve got lots of work to do,” Kaplan said. “Getting people onto the same page and getting systems onto the same page is always a lot of effort.” The merged firm at first was ready to plunge ahead using the Drinker Biddle computer system, but when some Gardner Carton attorneys raised objections, a committee was set up to review the decision, said Andrew Kassner, Drinker Biddle’s executive partner. Ultimately, the firm kept the Drinker system, but tweaked it to incorporate some Gardner Carton system attributes, he said. Kassner, who is based in Philadelphia, points to the January election of three one-time Gardner Carton attorneys and three longtime Drinker Biddle lawyers to the firm’s executive committee to show the success of the integration. The merger of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, which took effect last October, has led to the greatest outflow of attorneys from its Chicago office so far, including the departure in February of eight attorneys to DLA Piper. Nonetheless, the firm has attracted lawyers to other offices because of the merger and is likely to add lawyers in Chicago soon, said Jerry Clements, who holds the chair post in Austin, Texas. The expertise of the Chicago lawyers has made the firm more attractive to clients in other parts of the country, Clements said. For instance, they were integral in helping a Texas client acquire a Chicago-based insurance company, she said.

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