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Lathrop Gage to combine with Minneapolis firm Gray Plant Mooty

Nicholas Phillips//October 31, 2019

Lathrop Gage to combine with Minneapolis firm Gray Plant Mooty

Nicholas Phillips//October 31, 2019

The leadership of the Kansas City firm Lathrop Gage and the Minneapolis firm Gray Plant Mooty voted Oct. 30 to combine as Lathrop GPM LLP, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

The combined firm will consist of nearly 400 attorneys in 14 offices nationwide and earn a projected gross revenue of approximately $210 million. Such a revenue figure would bump Lathrop up from seventh to the sixth largest Missouri-rooted firm, based on Missouri Lawyers Media’s MOney 2019 publication.

R. Cameron Garrison, Lathrop’s managing partner, said the new firm won’t have a headquarters. The largest single office will be in Minneapolis, and the largest market is Kansas City.

“We’ve long thought they would be a potentially good partner for us,” Garrison said, adding that a respected industry consultant made introductions earlier this year and talks progressed from there.

Lathrop’s headcount is currently at 240 while Gray Plant Mooty has 155 lawyers. Garrison said the firms expect no redundancies. GPM will be bringing to the table its franchise team and its practices in health law, higher education, mergers and acquisitions, and nonprofits; Lathrop plans to complement with its experience in life-sciences patent prosecution, insurance recovery, tax credits, environmental law, tort litigation and energy.

Garrison will serve as the combined firm’s managing partner and chair of its executive committee. The executive committee will have 13 members from each legacy firm. Michael P. Sullivan Jr., currently GPM’s managing officer, will serve as the partner-in-charge of the Minneapolis office, as well as a member of the executive committee leading the integration efforts.

While the official vote at both firms occurred Oct. 30, Garrison said he knew the combination would work in the first week of September. That was when he and some Lathrop practice-group leaders flew to Minneapolis to meet and talk strategy with their potential counterparts at GPM. After a dinner at the Butcher & the Boar restaurant, Garrison and Sullivan stood off to the side, watching.

“Everybody was getting along swimmingly,” Garrison recalled, “the conversations were flowing, and Mike turned to me and said, ‘Could we just leave?’ We laughed, and we did. That’s the moment I realized this was going to work.”

Concluded Garrison: “We’re just lucky that we’ve each found such a great cultural and professional fit.”

Lathrop has faced challenges in recent years. Its revenue fell 10 percent in 2017 and another 5.5 percent in 2018, leaving it at $124.3 million, according to MOney 2019. It was the largest drop among Missouri’s nine largest firms. Yet at the same time, the firm saw substantial increases in revenue per lawyer and profit per equity partner last year.

The firm also has seen ups and downs in its offices. Lathrop closed its 13-lawyer Springfield office in 2018, but also has regrown its Los Angeles operation, expanded its IP practice in Boston and opened a Dallas office in early 2019.

Lathrop’s combination with a Minnesota firm is reminiscent of the 2014 merger of Kansas City-based Stinson Morrison Hecker with Minneapolis-based Leonard, Street and Deinard. The combined firm, now known as Stinson, is now the 5th largest firm in Missouri, according to the MOney 2019.

—Senior Reporter Scott Lauck contributed to this story.

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