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After two weeks of merger discussions, attorneys at Burr & Forman have voted against joining Memphis-based Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell. Burr partners in Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., and Montgomery, Ala., rejected the merger in a teleconference last Thursday night. William C. Knight Jr., managing partner of Birmingham-based Burr & Forman, says the firm decided not to continue discussions because of potential client conflicts. After a “week of very intense meetings,” Knight says, Burr partners voted against the merger. All three offices agreed on the decision, he adds. Burr & Forman has 30 attorneys in Atlanta and Baker; Donelson has nine. Both firms have said they intend to expand in the Atlanta area and elsewhere in the Southeast. “It didn’t appear at first blush that there were any conflicts,” Knight says. The two firms initially only looked at their top 50 clients, and Knight says with that kind of “headline” examination, it’s difficult to uncover “anything except a huge conflict.” But as the talks continued, he says the firm discovered possible conflicts of interest for litigating clients who are suing each other and are represented by each firm. The partners at Burr & Forman, Knight says, asked themselves whether the merger could help the firm’s client base. “We just couldn’t point to anything,” Knight says, that would aid the firm’s client base. Knight won’t rule out Burr & Forman merging with another firm, he says, or acquiring practice groups from other firms. James D. Spratt Jr., managing partner of Burr’s Atlanta office, says the firm still needs to expand in the Southeast. Baker Donelson also continues to look for ways to expand its Atlanta presence. After a two-year search for Atlanta merger partners, Baker Donelson merged with Kennedy, Davis & Hodge, a five-lawyer intellectual property boutique, in November. By adding the Kennedy Davis attorneys, Baker Donelson doubled its IP practice. The firm wants to add at least 50 lawyers in Atlanta, says managing partner Charles T. Tuggle Jr. and will continue to seek merger partners, practice groups and individual lawyers. Baker Donelson acquired the four-lawyer Balboni Law Group on Feb. 1. The Balboni lawyers joined the firm’s 45-attorney e-business practice group, says former partner Gerardo M. Balboni II. Balboni says his old firm lost iFLEET Inc. to Alston & Bird because it could not provide varied legal services. The Balboni Law Group didn’t want to lose other clients, such as FiTech Systems LLC, ecIndX Inc. and Touch Systems Inc., to larger law firms, Balboni says. Baker Donelson has 240 attorneys in six offices in Tennessee, Atlanta, Jackson, Miss., and Washington. Its 2000 revenues were more than $79 million. In October, James C. Duff, former administrative assistant to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, joined the firm’s Washington office as a shareholder. Duff joined former Senate Majority Leader and White House Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr. in the firm’s public policy practice. Former Federal Aviation Administrator Linda Hall Daschle serves as a senior adviser in the public policy practice group. Baker Donelson’s client list includes Aetna Casualty & Surety, CSX Corporation, Dillard Department Stores Inc., First Tennessee Bank, GMAC, Morgan Keegan, Northwest Airlines, Procter & Gamble, Sears, Roebuck and Co., and Servicemaster, according to the 2001 Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. Burr & Forman has 149 attorneys in Atlanta, Birmingham and Montgomery. Knight would not disclose Burr & Forman’s 2000 revenues but says they are less than Baker Donelson’s. Last July, Burr & Forman brought on five partners from the boutique litigation firm of Smith, Howard & Ajax. The move marked the end of the Smith firm. Burr & Forman opened its Atlanta office in 1994 primarily to serve its client SouthTrust Bank and is located in the SouthTrust Building at North Avenue and West Peachtree Street. The firm remained primarily a branch office doing SouthTrust work until early 1999 when the firm brought in several attorneys from the business section of Spratt’s old firm, Cashin, Morton & Mullins, which closed in January 1999. In addition to SouthTrust, Burr & Forman’s Web site lists clients including BellSouth Mobility Inc., Terminix International, Citigroup, Helen Keller Foundation, Birmingham Southern Railroad Co., Dow Chemical Co., USX Corp., Morgan Keegan and Sears, Roebuck and Co. Briefly … Politicians, legal scholars and practitioners will meet March 2 at Emory University School of Law to discuss foreign policy issues confronting the Bush administration. The event is the annual Thrower Symposium. Participants include former Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., U.S. Ambassador to Canada Gordon D. Giffin, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Edward E. Elson, former solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor George R. Salem and foreign policy expert Daniel Fisk of the Heritage Foundation. For more information, call 404-727-6831. New partners at Arnall Golden Gregory include Robert F. Dow, Anthony W. Morris and Ronald A. Weiner. Dow is a member of the corporate law group, Morris practices in the professional liability group, and Weiner is in the financial institutions group. The University of Georgia School of Law’s moot court team won the Southeastern Regionals of the 42nd annual Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition. Second-year law students Claudia P. Campo, J. Robert McNiff, D. Clint Pridgen and Megan K. Watkins beat out moot court teams from 10 schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The team also won the awards for best oralist (Pridgen) and third-best brief in the competition. Third-year law student Anne Allen Westbrook coached the team along with Fisher & Phillips partner Myra K. Creighton. The team will compete in the international moot court finals in Washington in April.

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