Polsinelli Sees Rapid Growth Over First Quarter

The firm has added high-profile attorneys and new practice groups

It’s a familiar story in Denver. Polsinelli is seeing major growth in the metro area. The firm brought in a large number of laterals in 2015 and 2016, which helped the firm fill out a new office in a marquee space in one of Denver’s new skyscrapers in 2017. Through the end of last year until the present, the firm has again brought in several laterals with top practices. To top it off, the firm also touted growth across all financials nationwide in the 2018 Am Law 100 listing.

Since November 2017, the firm has brought in about 20 attorneys, including three venture capital partners, two attorneys with a nationally renowned global franchise and supply network practice and an intellectual property attorney known around town for being instrumental in bringing a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office satellite to Denver.

That growth is part of a nationwide trend for the firm. According to a recent ALM article, Polsinelli posted growth in gross revenue, revenue per partner and profits per partner in 2017. 

Denver office managing partner Jennifer Evans said the firm, and the local office, grow according to client needs, with expansion in new areas coming as clients request it. And in some cases, growth begets growth. 

“We’ve had lawyers come to us and say, ‘we think your platform would be great to serve our clients, let’s talk.’ We’ve also had lawyers say, ‘we’ve got clients who need your expertise, let’s talk.’” Evans said. 

One recent addition, Scott Berdan, who lateraled to the firm from Holland & Hart, said his move to the firm was driven largely by the national footprint and the opportunity it gives him to grow his practice. For instance, if he is referred to a potential client in San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center, it might be easier to court them with a Polsinelli office in the Embarcadero Center. That national scope also opens doors for him across the country, as well, since the firm is operating in virtually every financial market in the U.S., he said. 

Evans said that national focus helps the growth as well, since the firm can be somewhat agnostic of geography. She said the Denver office has grown to be one of the largest offices in the firm because of the quality and availability of the attorneys in the market, not necessarily the location of the firm’s clients.                  

John Posthumus, who joined the firm as a shareholder in its IP group this month, said the national scope of Polsinelli also attracted him to the firm, while its midmarket pricing allows the firm to be competitive on the coasts where other BigLaw firms would likely charge more. 

“From the startup market to the Fortune 500 clients I have, I’m able to very easily within this structure meet their needs within a rate structure that they can afford,” he said.

The firm’s recent hiring boom has been tied to the financial growth, with the 20 additions coming during “hiring season” that began with the new fiscal year. Evans said there are still more to come, as well. Two of Polsinelli’s recent additions made the lateral move to the firm when their former firm, Gardere Wynne Sewell, merged with Foley & Lardner at the beginning of April. Because of a client conflict involving Foley & Lardner, they were searching for another firm and found that Polsinelli’s emerging markets, health care and mergers and acquisitions practices blended well with their global franchise and supply network practice — something of a niche that has been growing in recent years. 

Joyce Mazero and Lenn MacPhee joined Polsinelli and brought a new practice area to the firm as a result. Mazero said Polsinelli’s recent addition of attorney Chuck Cotter and his food and beverage practice tie in well with their practice area. 

“Our brands focus a lot on food service and the restaurant area,” Mazero said. “Being able to provide the full ambit of services as it relates to food and beverage is exciting for us.

Mazero and MacPhee are leaders in their practice area, though it is a small one. By Mazero’s description, it’s a practice that has been around for decades but in a small number. “They don’t teach franchising in law school,” she said. “You learn it through other lawyers who have specialized in it.” 

MacPhee said there are likely to be other additions to the practice area coming soon, which might make Polsinelli’s new and uncommon practice group a commodity around the country. That move into a new area and focus on top talent is evident across the board for the firm. And Berdan thinks that isn’t changing anytime soon.

“[The firm is] going to grow intelligently I believe,” he said. “I think it’s not pulled up the ladder and decided we are now everywhere we want to be.” 

— Tony Flesor

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