In a bid for an increased share of the competitive national insurance litigation market, Wilson Elser has expanded its Southeastern presence with new satellite locations in Birmingham, Alabama, and Nashville, Tennessee, after opening an Atlanta office last year.
The New York-based national firm, which has a heavy focus on defense litigation, launched the Atlanta office—its first in the Southeast outside Florida—in March 2017 with a six-lawyer team from Gordon & Rees led by Jeff Melcher.
Melcher said the Atlanta office has grown to 11 lawyers since then. “We have significant business in Alabama and Tennessee, and we are servicing a lot of those clients and their files from Atlanta,” he said. “We are pretty much at capacity for Atlanta and these other states.”
Melcher, who has represented insurers and self-insureds in Alabama and Tennessee for years, said clients have asked the firm to open the Birmingham and Nashville offices.
Wilson Elser represents almost every major insurance carrier in the country, Melcher said, as well as large self-insured trucking and transportation companies and other self-insured companies with operations in Alabama and Tennessee.
“We’ve gotten a slew of work in those states since we joined the firm, and we expect that to increase now that we have more of a presence,” he said.
Carriers like to sell their insureds on the idea of a physical office in the states where they do business, he added, and it’s also easier to host depositions and client meetings when there is an actual office there.
Wilson Elser has not yet hired local attorneys in Birmingham or Nashville, but the firm has started interviewing in both locations, said Melcher, who is overseeing the openings with Stratton Horres, the firm’s Southwest region managing partner.
“When Jeff joined Wilson Elser to open the Atlanta office in March 2017, the strategic plan was to open offices in Alabama and Tennessee when the time was right,” Horres said.
“Jeff and many on the team that accompanied him were already admitted and actively practicing in these jurisdictions. The business has grown to a place that calls for this expansion.”
Melcher said Wilson Elser plans to add at least one attorney in each city in the next six to 18 months. “It could be more than that, and it could be faster,” he added, depending on how much additional client work materializes.
With $314,850,000 in 2017 gross revenue, Wilson Elser placed at No. 106 in The American Lawyer’s Am Law 200 rankings. It ranked at No. 53 for the National Law Journal’s firm ranking based on size, with 760 lawyers.
The Birmingham and Nashville locations give Wilson Elser 37 U.S. offices. In the Southern region, besides Georgia, Florida, and now Alabama and Tennessee, it also has offices in Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas.
The Birmingham office is at 2700 Corporate Drive, and the Nashville office is located at Two American Center, 3102 West End Ave.