Adams and Reese managing partner Gif Thornton with new Atlanta office partner-in-charge Ron Bingham.
Adams and Reese managing partner Gif Thornton with new Atlanta office partner-in-charge Ron Bingham. (courtesy photo)

Adams and Reese has landed a 10-lawyer financial services team from Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz to open an Atlanta office and another in Fort Lauderdale.

Adams and Reese’s new Fort Lauderdale office Partner in Charge Chris Mills

Ron Bingham II is the partner-in-charge for the new Atlanta office, which also includes partners Bryan Busch and Matt Norton. Another partner, Chris Mills, leads the Fort Lauderdale office.

That gives Adams and Reese, an Am Law 200 firm with almost 300 lawyers, 18 offices in the Southeast, plus Washington, D.C. The firm reported revenue of $146 million and profits per partner of $485,000 in 2015.

Adams and Reese’s managing partner, Gif Thornton, said that financial services law is a big practice for his firm and “a spectrum of legal services comes into play in working with banks.”

“To find a group like Ron Bingham and our new partners, who practice collaboratively and do everything from the real estate transaction to the bank loan to the litigation to the workout to the bankruptcy,” Thornton said, fits well with the firm’s existing practice.

The financial services team joining Adams and Reese had not been at Baker Donelson long. Bingham, who represents financial institutions and other clients in workouts, joined in 2015 from Stites & Harbison’s local office.

Busch, Norton and Mills joined Baker Donelson at the start of last year wiith six other lawyers handling financial services and real estate matters from Atlanta-based boutique Busch White Norton, which disbanded at the end of 2015.

“When Matt and Bryan joined Baker Donelson, it was a reunion and an opportunity for us to combine our practices into what became a team approach,” Bingham said. The four partners have known each other for years from practicing in the same legal market, he added, and they have had clients in common.

Norton is a transactional lawyer handling corporate and real estate matters for lenders, developers, investors and funds. Busch is a litigator, handling workouts and other matters, including securitized mortgage litigation. Mills in Fort Lauderdale primarily handles regulatory compliance and transactions for lenders, as well as litigation.

The three additional Atlanta lawyers from Baker Donelson are special counsel Sameer Kapoor and associates Laura Mirmelli and David Stewart.

The three Baker Donelson lawyers making the move with Mills in Fort Lauderdale are Debbie Satyal as special counsel and associates Chantal Pillay and Margaret Kepler.

Branching Out

Thornton said Adams and Reese shares bank clients with the new recruits, including Regions Bank (based in Birmingham), BB&T Bank (based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina) and First Citizens Bank (based in Raleigh).

“Regions is a very large client of ours and First Citizens is of theirs,” he said.

The new financial services team also represents SunTrust Bank, Bank of the Ozarks, PNC Bank and Caterpillar Financial Services Corp.

“Client work is evolving away from a local mindset to at least a regional mindset if not one that is national and international,” Thornton said, noting that Adams and Reese is managed by practice groups and does not have a primary headquarters for its Southeastern footprint.

Thornton said the firm has a lot of banking lawyers in Birmingham and Jackson, Mississippi, while handling litigation for banking clients in Florida from its now six offices there.

Atlanta is a natural location for Adams and Reese, Thornton said, because it’s a regional financial center, but the firm waited to enter the market until it found the right team. “So many of our clients have business in Atlanta or business that emanates out of Atlanta,” he said, adding that the goal is to gain more work with the new team of financial services lawyers while also having Adams and Reese lawyers in other locations send work to Atlanta.

“We have our firm in a financial position where we think we can compete well in Atlanta and, perhaps more importantly, we’ve identified a practice area and a lane of traffic where we think can compete successfully,” Thornton said.

Bingham said Adams and Reese’s geographic footprint was not the determining factor for his team in changing firms, acknowledging that it isn’t so different from that of Baker Donelson, also a Southeastern regional firm. The attraction, he said, was client relationships in common, which he thinks will result in more work in both the Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale markets.

“We’re excited to have the initial team members in place. We expect more to follow,” Bingham said, adding that future Atlanta growth will be based on client response and business demand.

Adams and Reese’s Atlanta office is located in Buckhead at Monarch Tower at 3424 Peachtree Road NE. The new Fort Lauderdale office is located at 350 East Las Olas Blvd.