Two Chicago firms are becoming one, as full-service midsize firm Much Shelist absorbs six-lawyer Bronson & Kahn, effective June 1.
Bronson & Kahn’s lawyers and two staff members will relocate to Much Shelist’s Chicago office. The smaller firm, which focuses on real estate and corporate law, was founded 25 years ago by Dan Bronson and Harlan Kahn. The firm had eight lawyers, but two will not be making the move to Much Shelist.
Much Shelist will have around 100 lawyers when the merger is completed.
Bronson & Kahn had been approached a number of times over the years, Bronson said, and “went pretty far” in merger talks with another Midwest firm last year. But the potential deal fell apart because of the other firm’s lack of a Chicago presence.
Soon afterward, Bronson said he ran into Much Shelist partner Steve DeGraff at a Chicago Cubs game, and they got to talking about a potential merger.
“We have so much in common. It’ll be as if they’ve been here for 20 years,” Mitchell Roth, managing partner of Much Shelist, said. He said Bronson & Kahn had a sophisticated client base for a small firm, and a similar rate structure to Much Shelist.
Roth said it’s important to Much Shelist to remain “independent” as a midsize firm, which requires adding to its talent and client base.
“We’re always in the market for laterals or small firms that add to our existing base … we’ll continue to be in the market for like opportunities,” Roth said. He added that clients have become more sophisticated and want more of their legal services provided under one roof.
Bronson said clients have been enthusiastic about the move, and some have indicated that they will be taking more of their legal work to Much Shelist than they had been able to do at Bronson & Kahn.
“As we’ve grown and as our clients have grown … their needs have grown,” Bronson said. “It just made sense to move everything over to a firm that could better serve our clients.”
Kahn added that the merger presents opportunities for the younger lawyers at Bronson & Kahn, as well as succession planning solutions. Bronson said attracting young, talented lawyers to the practice will be easier at a larger firm.
“For Dan and I who are on the older side, it’s a great way for us to support and transition our clients,” Kahn said.
Much Shelist, which also has an office in Irvine, California, provides the Bronson & Kahn lawyers with tax, securities, intellectual property, labor and employment and litigation support—services Bronson & Kahn clients had shown interest in, Bronson said. Roth praised the smaller firm’s “great stable of clients.”