Fennemore scoops up Denver boutique, keeping up Western expansion

  • Firm adds 18 lawyers at professionals from Reilly LLP
  • Fennemore CEO says 'stars aligned' for hires as firm overhauls strategic plan

(Reuters) - Fennemore Craig is continuing to expand westward with the addition of seven lawyers and several other professionals from Denver litigation and trial boutique Reilly LLP.

Phoenix-founded Fennemore announced the Reilly combination on Tuesday, less than a year after it finalized a merger with California firm Dowling Aaron.

Fennemore pushed into the California market through the deal with Dowling Aaron last year, expanding its base beyond Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. The firm is growing its existing Denver presence with 18 lawyers and professionals from Reilly, including four partners and three of counsel.

"If you look at our footprint, we're really starting to fill out the West," said James Goodnow, president and CEO of Fennemore.

Goodnow said he sees opportunities for continued growth in Colorado, where the firm has clients with significant operations. Beyond Denver, Fennemore wants to expand in the other markets that the firm is already in, and is open to potential deals in other markets in the Western U.S., he said.

The Reilly team joined Fennemore on Monday as lateral hires, rather than through a merger of the two firms, Goodnow said, though Reilly will cease to operate after the deal.

Goodnow said that Fennemore looks for compatible practices, culture and economics when weighing lateral hires and combinations. With Reilly, "the stars aligned," he said. "We think this is going to be just a home run for us and our clients."

Reilly, founded in 2000, represents plaintiffs and defendants in national and commercial litigation, with a focus on complex trustee and fiduciary litigation. The firm was co-founded by Dan Reilly, who has counted the Denver Broncos as a client. He served as lead counsel in a dispute over the ownership of the football franchise.

"Fennemore has a contemporary, entrepreneurial spirit and growth strategy and is at the leading edge of the intersection of business and law," Dan Reilly said in an emailed statement. "The Reilly litigation team will have access to greater resources and talent for our current and prospective clients at Fennemore," he said.

Goodnow said his firm, which has about 350 lawyers and legal professionals, is in the midst of "overhauling" its strategic plan.

"If you look at how the world has changed in the last year and a half, I think if you have the strategic plan from two years ago, you could probably throw it out the window now," he said.

One aspect of the change underway at Fennemore is formalizing what he called a "People First" model, which has four components, including a "tech-centric distributed workforce," the firm said.

To Goodnow, that means embracing flexibility for all professionals at the firm and investing in technology to promote that.

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Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at sara.merken@thomsonreuters.com