Low costs, a strong talent pool and an abundance of upper middle-market corporations are the factors that are luring a steady stream of law firms to open outposts in Minneapolis.
In 2019 alone, a parade of large out-of-town firms—including Greenberg Traurig, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, and Spencer Fane—have announced they are opening offices in the City of Lakes.
“It’s a really underappreciated market when it comes to the economic dynamism of the geography,” said Steve Ryan, the president and managing partner of Minneapolis firm Briggs and Morgan. ”It’s an incredible place for businesses to thrive. There’s incredible access to talent.”
Last month Ryan’s firm announced plans to merge with Cincinnati-based Taft Stettinius & Hollister, creating a 600-lawyer firm and giving Taft, the larger of the pair, a Minneapolis presence for the first time.
Ryan said he expected more mergers to be announced in Minneapolis by the end of the year. But law firm management consultant Thomas Clay, a principal at Altman Weil, said combinations may slow down—precisely because the city has been attracting so much interest.
“It’s getting tougher to find tasty morsels,” Clay said.
Both Clay and Brian McMahon, the managing director of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s Minneapolis office, agreed that finding merger partners in a hot market isn’t a challenge that’s unique to Minnesota.
But McMahon said he has found that, as more firms enter the Minneapolis market, ”local lawyers’ and firms’ attitudes are evolving, and more firms and lawyers are receptive to attaching to, or at least investigating, a national platform.”