Although the firm has retained an investment banker to identify potential merger partners, nothing is imminent, Chairman and CEO Ralf Boer said.
“We’re a very old law firm, very patient and very focused, we think we’ll be there eventually,” Boer said. “If we don’t find a merger partner, we might open an office in Boston. We have not ruled that out either.”
In this climate, “law firms are talking all the time,” said Terrence “Terry” Finn, managing partner of Edwards & Angell. Finn stopped short of confirming talks with Foley & Lardner and, like Boer, he said nothing was imminent.
Foley & Lardner earned $489.5 million in revenue last year, according to the American Lawyer’s AmLaw 100 List of the nation’s largest law firms ranked by gross revenue. The firm also reaped $550,000 in revenue per lawyer, with a head count of 891 attorneys at the time of the ranking, and $630,000 in profits per equity partner.
Edwards & Angell’s reaped $130 million in gross revenue in 2002, according to legal trade magazine American Lawyer. The firm also earned $475,000 in revenue per lawyer and $500,000 in profits per equity partner, the magazine showed.
The approximately 300-lawyer Edwards & Angell has a range of practice groups, including insurance, intellectual property, private equity and real estate law. It has eight U.S. offices, including six in the Northeast and two in Florida.
Although Boer said New York is more strategically important to Foley & Lardner, the firm likes Boston for its opportunities in intellectual property law, particularly the life sciences, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as private equity.
“Our preference would be to identify a law firm that has practice areas that meet a number of our objectives,” Boer said.
Legal consultant Jeff Coburn, of Boston-based Coburn Consulting, said Foley & Lardner “arguably has the largest health care practice in the U.S.,” and its profits per partner are strong considering that the large percentage of its lawyers are based in Milwaukee. About 275 of the firm’s lawyers are based at the Milwaukee headquarters, according to the firm’s web site.
“It’s one of the success stories of a firm that has rolled itself out nationally,” Coburn said.