The courtship was short. The marriage was quick. But even after they wed, attorneys from two prominent Jackson law firms have yet to move in together.
After negotiating for less than two months, nine attorneys from Crosthwait Terney joined Butler, Snow, O`Mara, Stevens & Cannada, expanding its public finance and governmental affairs practice.
Andy Taggert, former chief of staff for Gov. Kirk Fordice and formerly associated with Corporate Relations Management, was the catalyst for the change of venue, said Crosthwait Terney attorney Don Clark. Taggert was previously with Butler Snow before joining the governor`s staff.
“When Andy Taggert decided to go back to law practice, he was in preliminary conversations with Butler Snow when he learned they were interested in expanding their public finance and governmental affairs department,” said Clark. “That`s the core business most of us do. We have spent our careers representing public entities and public officials and helping businesses that are locating or expanding in Mississippi.”
The attorneys joining Butler Snow are Lucien Bourgeois, Tommie Cardin, Donald Clark Jr., John England, Samuel Keyes, Michael Mason, John Travis and Thad Varner. Frank Crosthwait Jr., attorney for Archie and Peyton Manning, has joined Butler Snow as Of Counsel.
“Returning to Butler Snow offers me the challenge of getting back into the legal profession, while also providing the comfort and familiarity of having the opportunity to work with some of the best legal minds in the country,” stated Taggert. “I will now be able to bring the knowledge and experience I gained working within the framework of the government to the clients I will represent at Butler Snow.”
Several months ago, the firm acknowledged a need to expand, said Steve Rosenblatt, chairman of Butler Snow.
“It`s a good fit, both practice-wise and people-wise,” Rosenblatt said. “We knew their quality of work and reputation in the state.”
The marriage of resources and assets between the two firms will sweeten relationships with clients, Clark said.
“The issues facing government officials today are numerous and complex, and our association with Butler Snow gives us greater resources to address these issues,” he said.
Even though the deal was effective Aug. 1, the nine attorneys have not yet moved their offices to the Deposit Guaranty Plaza, located in downtown Jackson. “There are still a few details to work out,” Clark said.
Butler Snow opened its Gulf Coast office Jan. 1, with five attorneys. Their Memphis office was opened several weeks ago, even though attorneys had been in place since the first of the year.
“This is just another step in the direction we`re going,” Rosenblatt said. “This gives us the geographical coverage as well as the practice breadth and depth we want to give our clients.”
When more attorneys join ranks with Butler Snow this fall, the roster will list about 90 lawyers, Rosenblatt said.
“There`s been a lot of growth in a relatively short period of time,” Rosenblatt said. “But you don`t always control the timing of opportunities. The most exciting part is having an economy in Mississippi that will not only support it, but also almost require it. This lets us help relocate industries to help Mississippi grow.”
Clark said the parting with Crosthwait Terney is “very amicable.”
“Crosthwait Terney was having a fabulous year and was on top of its game,” Clark said. “It was totally a business decision and we thought our services could be enhanced. Since Butler Snow opened offices in Memphis and on the Gulf Coast, it fit well with our plans since we represent clients in cities, counties and school districts all over the state.”
Clark, who joined Crosthwait Terney in 1985 was formerly with the state attorney general`s office.
“The nature of the legal business is that smaller firms are getting smaller, larger firms are getting larger, and there are mergers and acquisitions,” Clark said. “Changes are made to strengthen a competitive position.”
Clark said he did not know what other attorneys at Crosthwait Terney were planning to do. Mike Espy will remain; his trial is slated for October, Clark said.
“My thought is the Crosthwait Terney firm will essentially wind down and everybody there will end up somewhere else,” he said.