Squire Patton Boggs’ new Atlanta office is up and running.
The three Dentons partners recruited to start the office, Ann-Marie McGaughey, Wayne Bradley and Petrina McDaniel, have officially joined their new firm, along with four associates. Squire had announced the office on Jan. 18, while the new partners were still at Dentons.
It’s been a busy 10 days, said McGaughey, who is the managing partner for the new office, on Friday.
The partner trio left Dentons two weeks ago and set up shop in temporary WeWork space in Midtown at 1372 Peachtree St. N.W. McGaughey and Bradley have cross-border transactional practices, while McDaniel is a commercial litigator and data privacy lawyer.
The associates, who’d worked with them at Dentons, started at Squire on Monday. Keshia Lipscomb is a litigation associate, while Dylan Donley and Jon Picard work on corporate matters. McGaughey said she’s recruited another corporate associate, Mary Emily Kinshaw, whom she’d hired at Dentons before Kinshaw moved to Brunswick and joined Gilbert, Harrell, Sumerford & Martin.
A Squire senior associate, Jonathan Taunton, who’d been working out of Atlanta with the firm’s Dubai-based construction litigation team, has also joined the group in their new office space—for a total of eight lawyers in Atlanta.
“The opportunity with Squire was a very unique one—to open an office for such a prestigious firm that was global,” McGaughey said. “It’s challenging, but exciting.”
With almost 1,600 lawyers, Squire is smaller than Dentons but still a giant multinational firm.
Getting to know Squire’s leaders clinched the deal for them, she added. “They were so enthusiastic and committed, we couldn’t pass it up.”
Squire’s chairman and global CEO, Mark Ruehlmann, and Steve Mahon, the firm’s global managing partner for clients and strategy, visited their new Atlanta partners earlier in the week.
Ruehlmann and Mahon opened Squire’s Cincinnati office in 1999, McGaughey said, and shared their experience over lunch.
“You would have thought it was last year, because they were still so enthusiastic about it,” she said. “I feel that they get it—that they’ve been there and done that.”
She said Squire’s U.S. managing partner, Fred Nance, has also been a strong backer of the Atlanta endeavor.
“They’re supportive. This is a team effort,” McGaughey said. “It’s not—’Here’s your space, we’ll see you in a year, and you need to be this many lawyers.’”
McGaughey said she, Bradley and McDaniel have practiced together for many years, which made opening a new office less daunting. All three had worked at Dentons’ predecessor firm, McKenna Long & Aldridge, which merged with the global megafirm in July 2015.
McGaughey and Bradley started out at Atlanta’s Long Aldridge & Norman, which merged with Washington-based McKenna & Cuneo in 2002. McDaniel joined McKenna after law school in 2004.
The two more senior partners were firm leaders, first at McKenna and then at Dentons. Bradley headed McKenna’s corporate practice for many years (after a brief detour to Paul Hastings) and McGaughey was the firm’s Atlanta hiring partner before the Dentons merger—a role she continued for a year at her new firm.
Both Bradley and McGaughey were on McKenna’s board of directors and, postmerger, the combined U.S. board for Dentons for the first year. Bradley also was on the compensation committees at both McKenna and Dentons.
Squire has dispatched three staff from other offices to help the Atlanta lawyers get set up, McGaughey said, even though the fledgling office numbers only eight lawyers so far.
“It’s not easy to open a new office,” she said. “Our No. 1 goal is to make sure it’s a seamless transition for clients—that was a concern we all had—and they have not missed a beat.”
“I feel fortunate with that. It’s only our 10th day,” she said.
McGaughey said she expects Squire’s Atlanta office to become full service.
“I don’t have a mandate from leadership that we need to have a certain number of lawyers at a certain time,” she added.
“We are not trying to be the biggest,” she said. “I don’t think you have to be very big to do that. We’re trying to be thoughtful and not do too much too soon.”
The Atlanta legal market has taken notice of Squire’s new outpost. McGaughey said she’s been fielding plenty of calls and emails from recruiters and lawyers, adding that the interest has been “a bit overwhelming.”
“Our immediate focus is transitioning clients and integrating into the firm,” she said.
McGaughey declined to name clients without permission but said she represents global companies that are expanding into the United States, most recently in the health care, media and services industries.
She generally represents strategic companies on the buy side, along with a few family businesses on the sell side. Multinationals are often expanding on several fronts, she said, so she will handle the U.S. transactions while coordinating the transactions taking place in other jurisdictions, such as Europe or Asia.
Bradley typically represents private equity firms on the sell side, McGaughey said, so they have different client bases.
McGaughey said Squire’s diversity was another draw for herself, Bradley and McDaniel. “There is a lot of talk about diversity these days, and this firm could actually talk about things that were real,” she said. “That is important to all of us.”
For instance, Squire’s 12-person global managing board, which is also its compensation committee, includes five women and an African-American partner.
Five of the eight lawyers in Squire’s Atlanta office are women, McGaughey noted.
She added that Squire’s integrated management style, with a global board running the firm, instead of separate boards for the United States, Europe and other jurisdictions, was also a draw.
“There is a saying here that this is a ‘one-firm firm’—that we put the firm ahead of individual lawyers,” she said. “To me it was different.”