Grant S. Palmer is the new chairman of Blank Rome, a single of the nationwide company law firms based mostly in Philadelphia. Earlier head of the litigation device, he grew to become running husband or wife in 2019, and succeeded Alan J. Hofmann as chairman Jan. 1.
Palmer, 59, agreed to chat about how his agency has progressed and how the practice of law has improved considering that he graduated from the College of Pennsylvania regulation school in 1989. He and his spouse elevated their 3 small children in Philadelphia and its suburbs. The interview has been edited for duration and clarity.
The Penn Central railroad [and its epic 1970 bankruptcy] put us on the map. And we represented practically all of the Philadelphia banks [before they were sold in the 1980s and 1990s].
Beneath David F. Girard-diCarlo, who joined the board of PNC [in 1995 when it absorbed a pair of Philly-area banks], we transitioned the financial establishments practice into a nationwide apply, a person of our main techniques. [PNC, based in Pittsburgh, is now the fifth-largest U.S. bank.]
All the main U.S. banking institutions are now our purchasers. And several of the massive insurers. Our economical companies, restructuring and personal bankruptcy exercise is now as big as the total firm was when I joined — 80 lawyers. We have been very intentional in our progress.
We started off in Philadelphia in 1946. [Almost one-third] of the senior management and apply leaders are based mostly in Philadelphia, and a lot of the administration. We are very pleased of our Philadelphia roots. We’ve been in this office [One Logan Square, 130 N. 18th St.] given that 2000, and we just took an additional 16-12 months lease.
But we are heading to minimize the area. Correct now we are on flooring 3 via 11. We will give up at the very least 3 floors, from the bottom.
As a business that is developing nationally, our range-1 advancement spot is in New York Metropolis, and New York will before long, in all probability, be our largest workplace. We have 343 companions as of right now and 664 in all. About 200 of individuals legal professionals are in Philadelphia, possibly 175 are presently in New York.
We have other spots. [BlankRome has offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and nine other U.S. cities, plus Philadelphia and Shanghai.]
Range has been crucial to us from the start out. The guys who founded the company couldn’t get a job at any other law organization in Philadelphia they have been Jewish. They targeted at 1st on authentic estate and company practice. They figured that immediately after World War II there would be an explosion of litigation. They ended up correct.
Again then we didn’t established our hourly rates. The Philadelphia Bar Affiliation established a schedule, and the company adhered to that. The job has adjusted: We now maximize prices each and every yr. It’s 1 of the motorists of our small business — to determine out the financial design.
My father was a banker and businessman in York. He owned a store downtown, Palmer’s on the Square. I went to Penn Legislation. I graduated in 1989, got a federal clerkship, and came back again to Blank Rome in 1990. Our revenues were being significantly less than $50 million. We now do that in a thirty day period. Of program, there’s been inflation.
Mike Margolis, who heads that office environment, joined us in Los Angeles. He moved to Shanghai and turned the leader.
Quite a few of our purchasers there do small business subject to U.S. law. For case in point, we are assisting businesses from just about everywhere negotiate the U.S. anti-terrorism rules and the lawsuits [alleging companies’] actions might have led to terrorist functions.
That isn’t just in China. When Chiquita was accused of paying out off guerrillas [in Colombia] to get their bananas shipped, we represented them.
Our strategic system is to build our nationwide platform in the United States. We have a maritime apply, most likely a person of the leaders in the region. We added a few of the most elite maritime firms in the place, in New York, Houston, and D.C.
Morgan Lewis, Blank Rome, Dechert, Duane Morris, Cozen O’Connor are all firms launched in Philadelphia that have grown organically by adding legal professionals separately and in compact teams. We have brought in 75 lateral associates because I grew to become taking care of husband or wife in 2019. That’s a good deal of people.
Our greatest mergers were being Tenzer Greenblatt, 80 lawyers in New York in 2000, and 100 lawyers from the Dickstein Shapiro organization in Washington, D.C., in 2016.
Some other massive corporations have applied a distinctive tactic. Ballard Spahr, Drinker Biddle, Pepper, have every single experienced mergers with other huge companies [with hundreds of lawyers each] to raise their footprints.
The most important detail to me is holding onto what we imagine is a incredibly exclusive, tight-knit lifestyle, now that we are over 600 legal professionals.
It was a great deal easier when we have been smaller, and every person was in the office environment 5 days a week. Now we have organization-huge town halls every single thirty day period. … We just acquired back again to getting a retreat — in Miami at the Intercontinental Lodge in late October. The strength of people!
We had a variety summit. [The late] Sixth Circuit Decide Nathaniel A. Jones, a national civil-legal rights figure and general counsel to the NAACP, was our very first variety and inclusion officer. We have our Women’s Leadership Summits a goal has been to produce an setting that enabled women of all ages to leverage associations with clients, to be in demand of relationships, so they can be compensated for it.
We have reduced attrition. We say that no one ever remaining this firm as a consequence of believing they ended up not compensated quite.
In contrast to a great deal of major firms, when we contend for litigation or a merger, we workers issues much more lean. We could have a main associate compared to a crew of six individuals. It provides our people substantive obligation, extra experience.
I invested 18 several years as the chair of the professional bono committee for Blank Rome. We have been a person of the first firms to have a comprehensive-time professional bono director in 2002. In 2014, we needed just about every legal professional to add at least 25 hours. Two several years ago for our 75th anniversary, we advised 75 hours.
It has transformed the regulation company in many means. We are all blessed. We make a ton of income. So we see the distinction we can make in communities.
It has not been an challenge. We follow the American Bar Association recommendations: Pro bono means carrying out authorized operate for a person who could not find the money for it.
Gun legal rights is an challenge. We have represented the Brady Center to Reduce Gun Violence. We have been very out entrance with difficulties that arose in the course of the pandemic with regard to racial injustice. It is not everyone’s preference but there have not been lots of objections.
Philadelphia has professional a bit of a renaissance in latest decades. There is far more lifestyle sciences and tech coming into Philly. It’s a trickle, but it is a get started.
Taxes are an concern they have been for a extensive time. I moved to Philadelphia for law faculty in 1986. I consider this is a significantly much better city and has way much more to present, from places to eat to activities, than when I came in this article. We are likely in the correct way.