Just as it was planting a flag in Boston, Arent Fox also furthered its presence on the West Coast with a small firm acquisition in San Francisco.
Washington, D.C.-based Arent Fox has absorbed a group of seven attorneys from Kay & Merkle, a San Francisco-based boutique that specializes in the real estate and automotive industries.
The Kay & Merkle attorneys who joined Arent Fox on Jan. 1 included Kay & Merkle founders Steven Kay and Walter Merkle, partners W. Bruce Bercovich and John Merkle, and associates Angele Solano, June Lee and Douglas Marshall.
“We have been working with the lawyers at Arent Fox for a few years now … and we very much enjoy the relationship,” said Merkle. As an eight-lawyer boutique, Merkle said, his group has enjoyed the resources provided by Arent Fox through their collaboration on some transactional work.
“It just makes sense for us to get the direct access [to] the resources rather than doing it in a separate firm,” said Merkle. He said Kay & Merkle will wind down after combining with Arent Fox, and the one remaining partner Alan Silver is starting his own practice in the Bay Area.
A Bay Area institution since 1973, Kay & Merkle specializes in the structuring, acquisition, sale, development, financing and leasing of real estate projects and automotive matters. Arent Fox’s San Francisco managing partner Richard Brand emphasized that the acquisition was a “simple transaction” because of the firms’ long-standing working relationship.
“Now we have about 15 or so real estate transactional [and] automotive transactional lawyers … For a San Francisco real estate transactional practice, it is very impressive,” said Brand. “It opens up the door in terms of serving our clients, or new clients that might have not otherwise considered us.”
Arent Fox established its San Francisco office in 2013. With the addition of Kay & Merkle’s group, it now has nearly 40 attorneys offering a full range of services including corporate, real estate, intellectual property and regulatory counseling.
Kay & Merkle’s partners each join as counsel at Arent Fox. Merkle, who was a founding member of Kay & Merkle, has extensive experience in the acquisition, sale, financing and leasing of commercial real estate properties. His partner, Kay, has been advising clients in real estate, business transactions and sports matters for over four decades.
In the firm’s Thursday announcement, Arent Fox firmwide managing partner Cristina Carvalho said the Kay & Merkle group shares similar “value, culture and approach” with her 450-lawyer firm.
“After working with them for many years, we have come to find that their sterling reputation is well-earned and their focus on the automotive, financial and real estate industries is a great match for our key practice areas,” said Carvalho.
The San Francisco combination took effect the same day as Arent Fox’s entrance into Boston with the acquisition of Posternak Blankstein & Lund, a 55-lawyer Boston-based firm focusing on business transactions and complex litigation.