After months of speculation, Philadelphia-based Drinker Biddle & Reath and Chicago-based Gardner Carton & Douglas have confirmed to The Legal Intelligencer that the two firms will merge.
The firms began merger discussions in March, according to Drinker Biddle Chairman Alfred W. Putnam Jr., and have held several meetings since then.
The Gardner Carton partnership voted two weeks ago to approve the merger, with Drinker Biddle partners following suit last week.
Putnam said the Drinker Biddle partnership voted yes to the merger by “a number substantially in excess” of what the firm’s partnership agreement requires.
Gardner Carton Chairman Harold L. Kaplan said his partnership “overwhelmingly” supported the merger as well.
The combination will take effect on Jan. 1, 2007, creating a firm with 651 lawyers and 26 other professionals across 12 offices. The firm will maintain the Drinker Biddle name, except for its offices in Illinois and Wisconsin, where it will be known as Drinker Biddle Gardner Carton until 2008.
Putnam will maintain his position as chairman, but he said there will be room made on the management committee for Gardner Carton attorneys.
Drinker Biddle managing partner Andrew C. Kassner said his firm has been focused on growing the business side of its practice, and Gardner Carton will help with that in the areas of intellectual property, corporate work, real estate and investment management. Gardner Carton is also known for its health care and human resources practices, he said.
Both Kassner and Kaplan are bankruptcy lawyers, and Kassner said the firm will now have offices in three of the five biggest markets for bankruptcy filings: New York, Delaware and Chicago. The other two areas, he said, are Texas and California.
Kassner said Gardner Carton’s health care practice could also benefit from a larger presence on the East Coast where there are several pharmaceutical companies.