Two Philly law firms announced dueling mergers. What's next for their entrepreneurship programs? - Technical.ly Philly

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Sep. 6, 2017 9:22 am

Two Philly law firms announced dueling mergers. What’s next for their entrepreneurship programs?

Saul Ewing and Ballard Spahr expanded their out-of-market reach by merging with smaller firms.
Left to right: Ballard Spahr attorneys Terence M. Grugan, Brieanna A. Wheeland and Gregory L. Seltzer.

Left to right: Ballard Spahr attorneys Terence M. Grugan, Brieanna A. Wheeland and Gregory L. Seltzer.

(Courtesy photo)

Well, that was a weird coincidence: on Tuesday both Saul Ewing and Ballard Spahr announced they were each expanding their reach beyond Philly through a couple of mergers.

Saul Ewing joined forces with Chicago-based firm Arnstein & Lehr to form a combined company of to 400 attorneys and 15 offices under the name Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr. No financial details from the merger were disclosed.

Last year, Saul Ewing announced it was launching a program for entrepreneur support called RAMP (Resources, Access and Mentoring Program). Per a company spokesperson, the program will continue without changes after the merger is concluded. It’s still too early to say, per the spokesperson, how the program will be rolled out to the firm’s new locations (Chicago and Miami).

In a separate announcement, Ballard Spahr also said Tuesday it would be merging with a smaller, out-of-market law firm: Minneapolis-based Lindquist & Vennum, which also has offices in Colorado and South Dakota. In this case, the combined company will retain the name of Philly’s Ballard Spahr.

The new headcount at the company is 650, an uptick from Ballard Spahr’s previous workforce of 500 attorneys.

BASE and Project SING, the two entrepreneurship-focused initiatives at the law firm, are being expanded, according to partner Greg Seltzer.

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“We’re going to be spreading [the programs] to Minneapolis and Denver,” Seltzer said. BASE had a presence in Colorado by way of its Boulder office. With the new merger, the company will look to infiltrate the growing tech scene in Denver.

In Minneapolis, where venture capital is looking more inward and native Target has an accelerator, the law firm will also look to connect entrepreneurs with the resources available through both BASE and SING.

Tuesday’s dueling mergers are the sign of a broader narrative among law firms. Newtown Square, Pa.-based consulting firm Altman Weil said in a report earlier this year that mergers in the space had “dramatically” accelerated since 2013 as a result of the recession. In the U.S. alone, 85 law firms merged during 2016.

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