A month after completing a trans-Atlantic merger, Womble Bond Dickinson announced another tie-up Monday, absorbing seven-lawyer communications and technology boutique Bennet & Bennet, which has offices in Washington, D.C., and Bethesda, Maryland.
Michael Bennet and Caressa “Carri” Bennet, the husband-and-wife duo that founded the small firm in 1995, will become partners along with Marjorie Spivak in the newly formed Womble Bond Dickinson’s communications, technology and media team.
Bennet & Bennet counsel Robert Silverman and Daryl Zakov are joining Womble Bond Dickinson as senior counsel, while senior counsel Howard Shapiro comes aboard as of counsel and Erin Fitzgerald joins as an associate. The combination between both firms will go live under the Womble Bond Dickinson name on Jan. 1, 2018.
Bennet & Bennet primarily works with clients in the rural telecommunications and broadband space, representing wireless and broadband communications providers in a wide array of matters, including federal regulatory compliance. In 2011, the firm scored a role representing the Rural Telecommunications Group in its bid for a regulatory review of AT&T Inc.’s ultimately unsuccessful $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA Inc.
Carri Bennet said that the tie-up with Womble Bond Dickinson came after some introspection on the trajectory of her firm and its clients’ needs.
“We’ve been around in this space doing this for quite some time [and] we’re getting old,” she joked. “We started looking around to see what we should do next, where our client base was going and what kind of support they needed.”
And while Bennet & Bennet had been approached by other firms for potential mergers in the past, Womble Bond Dickinson proved to be the right fit for her outfit, said Bennet, noting the firm’s Nov. 1 creation following a cross-border combination between Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice and the U.K.’s Bond Dickinson.
As more and more transactional activity shifts to regions outside the United States, Bennet said working at Womble Bond Dickinson will allow her team to serve its client base on a broader trans-continental platform.
“They’re not quite there yet,” said Bennet, when asked about the global aspirations of her firm’s client base of predominantly smaller telecommunications companies. “But we were positioning to offer those service to our clients who are primarily based in rural America.”
Many of Bennet & Bennet’s clients entered the rural telecommunications and broadband market because no one else wanted to service that part of the country, Bennet said. So for years, the companies had to adapt to new technologies and permutations, and as a result, are poised to pivot and quickly adapt to rapid changes in technology, unlike their larger counterparts.
“Our guys are not the first adopters of the technology, but they know how to integrate it very quickly into the networks they already have,” Bennet said.
Larger telecommunications companies can learn from smaller operators in the space on how best to position themselves in the marketplace, said Bennet, adding that Bennet & Bennet’s capability and knowledge of that technology and smaller network nuances is something that her team can bring to a growing global legal giant like Womble Bond Dickinson.
“I think that’s something you don’t see a lot of lawyers, other than patent lawyers, really understand[ing],” Bennet said.
Womble Bond Dickinson’s acquisition of Bennet & Bennet was one of a flurry of combinations between large and small law firms to start December.
Squire Patton Boggs bolted on a small cybersecurity firm in Dallas, while Atlanta-based Smith, Gambrell & Russell expanded to Los Angeles by acquiring boutique Rodi Pollock Pettker Christian & Pramov. In Houston, leading Louisiana firm Kean Miller absorbed five-lawyer local shop Ogden Broocks & Hall.