Strasburger & Price of Dallas and Detroit-based Clark Hill said Tuesday they will merge effective Wednesday, creating a 650-lawyer firm with offices in 25 cities. The combined firm will be known as Clark Hill everywhere except in Texas, where it will be called Clark Hill Strasburger.
The merger marks the third this month involving a Texas firm.
Partners at the two firms said they had been discussing the possibility of joining forces for about a year. Initial talks grew out of a longtime friendship between Dan Butcher, managing partner of Strasburger, and John Hern Jr., chief executive officer of Clark Hill. Butcher said they met about a decade ago at the LawVision Group Managing Partner Roundtable.
Hern said combining the 200-lawyer Strasburger and the 450-lawyer Clark Hill will provide each firm with a larger geographic reach and more depth in practice offerings. The two also have similar cultures and a “client-first mentality,” he said.
Butcher said Clark Hill brings to the table some practices Strasburger didn’t have, such as governmental affairs. And legacy Strasburger clients will now have access to more depth in such practice areas as intellectual property, immigration, labor and employment, real estate, banking, corporate and some litigation specialties.
“It helps us to have a lot more to offer clients,’ Butcher said.
Hern, who will be managing partner of the combined firm, said Clark Hill has eyed Texas for some time because many of its clients have operations in the Lone Star State. He said the merger also gives Clark Hill an entré to Latin America through Strasburger’s Mexico City office, and resources in such practices as energy, oil and gas, construction, retail, tax and health care. He noted that the combined firm has very significant corporate M&A, intellectual property and labor practices.
Butcher said Strasburger wasn’t seeking a merger partner, but the possibility of joining together evolved after the firms began to talk.
“Clark Hill and Strasburger have a similar strategic focus on the type of clients we serve and the value proposition we offer. It’s not like a national firm coming in to force the rates up for our lawyers,” he said.
Clark Hill, which ranks in the Am Law 200, has been in expansion mode in recent years. In 2017, it combined with the 100-lawyer West Coast firm Morris Polich & Purdy, and in 2013, it merged with Thorp Reed & Armstrong, a 100-lawyer firm based in Pittsburgh.
It also bolted on the seven-lawyer Chicago litigation shop Martin, Brown, Sullivan, Roadman & Hartnett in 2016 and acquired the Phoenix-based construction boutique Fox & Associates in 2014.
Also, in 2017 Clark Hill opened an office in Dublin after taking on lawyers from the local office of London-based Kerman & Co.
Strasburger is the largest firm to combine with Clark Hill in recent years. Founded in 1939, the Dallas-based firm is known for its corporate and litigation practices in Texas. In 2011, Strasburger acquired the 24-lawyer Oppenheimer, Blend, Harrison and Tate, based in San Antonio. Strasburger has offices in Austin, Beaumont, Dallas, Frisco, Houston and San Antonio, and New York, Washington, D.C., and Mexico City.
Clark Hill has four offices in Michigan, as well as offices in Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Morgantown, West Virginia, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Princeton, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Delaware and Dublin.
Washington, D.C. is the only overlapping city, and Strasburger’s lawyers will move into the Clark Hill offices.
Hern will be managing partner of the combined firm. Butcher will serve on the firm’s expanded executive committee. Strasburger partners will hold one-third, and Clark Hill partners will hold two-thirds of the positions on the committee.
In 2017, Strasburger & Price‘s net income increased 9 percent to $29 million, compared with $27 million in 2016. But its gross revenue rose only slightly, from $93.7 million in 2016 to $93.8 million in 2017. The firm’s revenue per lawyer in 2017 was $500,000 and its profits per partner came in at $421,000.
At the larger Clark Hill, gross revenue rose to $193.6 million in 2017, compared to $151.5 million in 2016—an increase of 27.8 percent. Its income totaled $38.3 million, down from 42.9 million the prior year. The firm’s revenue per lawyer in 2017 was $480,000 and its profits per partner came in at $525,000.
Strasburger is the third Texas firm to complete a merger this month. On April 1, Gardere Wynne Sewell merged with Foley & Lardner, forming Foley Gardere (Foley & Lardner outside of Texas and Mexico City). And on April 2, Andrews Kurth Kenyon merged with Hunton & Williams, forming Hunton Andrews Kurth.