Northeast regional firm Barclay Damon, which acquired a Syracuse boutique Wednesday, is in serious talks now with two smaller firms for mergers that could close next year, said firm managing partner John Langan.
Langan, who declined to name the New York firms and their cities, said the potential merger partners each have under 20 attorneys and would generally contribute substantial expertise to Barclay Damon’s existing practices.
Meanwhile, the 275-attorney firm in the last two months has announced an alliance with a Boston area practice and a small combination: Barclay Damon acquired on Wednesday 11-attorney energy-environmental firm, Gilberti Stinziano Heintz & Smith. Major clients of the small Syracuse firm have included Honeywell International Inc. and Cargill Power Markets, according to court records.
Langan declined to disclose the Gilberti Stinziano firm’s revenue or the combined firm revenue. However, he said with the Gilberti Stinziano deal, Barclay Damon would be qualified to be in the Am Law 200 ranking. The Am Law 200 firms this year began with revenue starting at $91 million.
If the firm wasn’t there already, “We are there now,” Langan said.
Barclay Damon is pursuing a merger strategy amid what Langan described as emerging growth opportunities for regional and midsized firms: Smaller firms with significant business and deep expertise are not well enough capitalized to make investments in technology and financial analytics to fully meet demands from general counsel. As a result of these factors and succession planning, smaller firms are “re-evaluating what they want to do,” often finding they can build larger practices with a regional firm, Langan said.
And just as there is stratification among the Am Law 200 firms, “a mini version of that” is occurring within the regional firm world, where regional firms are competing to grow, acquire thriving small firms and successfully integrate them, he said.
Barclay Damon, originally known as Hiscock & Barclay, is itself the result of a 2015 combination with a Buffalo law firm, Damon Morey, and has grown from a series of small acquisitions and lateral moves in the last two decades. The firm had just 50 attorneys in 1995.
The 11 attorneys joining Barclay Damon on Tuesday from the Gilberti Stinziano firm include partners: William Gilberti Jr., John Klucsik, Patricia Naughton, Anthony Rivizzigno, Kevin Roe and Francis Stinziano Jr.
The Gilberti Stinziano firm served energy transition and distribution clients and energy generation clients, working on regulatory, project sighting, litigation and transactional matters. Gilberti Stinziano has a “real robust client base and revenue stream,” Langan said. “They were very successful in bringing in business.”
Barclay Damon wasn’t specifically looking for this type of energy practice but heard the Gilberti Stinziano firm, founded about 51 years ago, was open to a combination, Langan said. Barclay Damon already focused on energy and environmental clients and the combination “adds depth and experience to the existing team,” he said.
In an interview, Gilberti, who was CEO of his firm, said the boutique had been approached over the years by national and international law firms for a combination but chose Barclay Damon because of its “parallel strengths” in energy and environmental law.
The firm came to the decision to merge because “the climate is changing for lawyers” and “you need a larger footprint to stay competitive” and to take on more matters for clients, he said.
Barclay Damon moved into a new Syracuse office last year, called, Barclay Damon Tower. While the firm continues to build out the space, the former Gilberti Stinziano attorneys and staff will use their existing offices in Syracuse. After construction is complete, all lawyers and staff from the combination will operate from Barclay Damon Tower, which Langan expects to occur by the end of 2018 at the latest.
In September, Barclay Damon took on four attorneys from McCauley Lyman, a firm in Framingham, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. The lawyers, Don McCauley, Frank Lyman, Jill Winans and Michael Blasik, joined as of counsel while remaining partners of their firm in what Barclay Damon called a “strategic alliance” for additional expertise in solar and wind energy development.
Describing the arrangement, Langan said there are “economic incentives” for the firms to share their work with each other. However, it’s more than just a fee-sharing arrangement, he said, as the attorneys are members of the firm’s practice areas and participate in pitches and strategic planning.