Pepper Hamilton to merge with Atlanta-based firm

PHILADELPHIA – Pepper Hamilton, which has a Wilmington office, has agreed to merge with Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders effective April 1, the firms announced Thursday, Jan. 9.

The new firm will be known as Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, or Troutman Pepper in short, and boast a combined 1,100 attorneys in 23 offices nationwide. The merging firms had a joint presence in only four locales: New York City, Orange County, Calif.; the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington, D.C.

Partners at each firm approved the merger in votes earlier this week, according to officials. Pepper Hamilton, headquartered in Philadelphia since its founding in 1890, became the second large firm with a Delaware presence to merge after Philadelphia-based Drinker Biddle & Reath approved its union with Indianapolis-based Faegre Baker Daniels last month. Both the Drinker Biddle and Pepper Hamilton mergers were previously reported by legal news sources in November.

Pepper Hamilton, which has an office at 1313 N. Market St. in Wilmington, will merge with Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders on April 1. | PHOTO COURTESY OF JLL

Both Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton focus on corporate, litigation, intellectual property, tax and bankruptcy law, among other areas of expertise. They are also similarly sized, with Troutman Sanders ranking No. 68 on the AmLaw 200 list of the highest grossing firms while Pepper Hamilton ranked No. 105. The firms reported that the merger would move them up to a projected ranking of No. 47 in next year’s list, with an estimated revenue of more than $900 million.

In Delaware, Pepper Hamilton ranks as one of the state’s 10 largest firms, according to Delaware Business Times’ 2019 research. It currently has 22 attorneys and 33 overall staff members, officials reported.

Opened in 1983, the Wilmington office at 1313 N. Market St. focuses on corporate and commercial law, banking and financial services (including consumer financial services), bankruptcy and reorganization, labor and employment, real estate, venture capital, international matters, corporate and commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution.

Joanna Cline, partner in charge of Pepper Hamilton’s Wilmington office, told Delaware Business Times that it is too early to know whether the office will grow in size. She added that the local staff is very excited about the new possibilities that the merger brings though.

“We are really excited about the synergies that the merger will create,” she said.

With Delaware’s Court of Chancery and Supreme Court hosting many of the legal cases involving American corporations across the country, Cline said that local counsel would be able to assist fellow attorneys at Troutman Pepper offices nationwide. Troutman Sanders currently has cases filed in Delaware courts, she said, but added that it was too early yet to assist in those cases.

“Our No. 1 priority right now is that our current clients are served properly,” she said, noting there will be many opportunities lend local assistance on future cases.

In a statement announcing the merger, Tom Gallagher, chairman of the executive committee of Pepper Hamilton, said “the reasons to combine our two firms extend well beyond the nearly seamless merging of the complementary practice groups.”

“From a cultural standpoint, we are significantly aligned on values. We both are considered innovators, having invested early in new tools and technologies, and we are both well-known for delivering exceptional value to our clients,” said Gallagher, who will serve as vice chairman of the new firm.

Steve Lewis, managing partner of Troutman Sanders, who will serve as chairman and of the combined firm, agreed with his colleague, adding in a statement, “Troutman Pepper will offer a deeper bench, increased resources and an expanded geographic footprint. With these factors, we see a tremendous upside for both our clients and potential new growth.”

Officials also announced that Tom Cole, managing partner of Pepper Hamilton, will continue in that role at Troutman Pepper, and Andrea Farley, chair of Troutman Sanders’ Partner Compensation Committee, who will continue in that role at the combined firm.

By Jacob Owens

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