The Firms

August 30, 2011 7:20 PM

Polsinelli Shughart Picks Up 13-Lawyer Denver Firm

Posted by Brian Baxter

Polsinelli Shughart is increasing its presence in the Denver market by acquiring 13-lawyer boutique Hensley Kim, the firms announced Tuesday.

The new hires better position Polsinelli Shugart, a 466-lawyer firm based in Kansas City, Mo., to counter Am Law 200 and in-state rivals Husch Blackwell and Lathrop & Gage, both of which have acquired Denver firms within the past year. St. Louis-based Husch Blackwell merged with 24-lawyer Jacobs Chase in July and Kansas City-based Lathrop & Gage picked up Kamlet Reichert in September 2010.

The hires from Hensley Kim, which will be effective on November 1, will see name partners John Kim and Darren Hensley become partners at Polsinelli Shughart. They'll be joined under the Polsinelli Shughart shingle by fellow partners Stacy Carpenter, Ryan Warren, Michael Dulin, and Paul Franke. The boutique's seven remaining lawyers are also expected to eventually make the move to Polsinelli Shughart, Kim says.

Hensley Kim specializes in corporate transactional, intellectual property, and real estate work, Kim says. It had wanted to remain independent while it pursued a strategic growth plan. The firm was known as Hensley Kim & Holzer until June 30, when former name partner Richard Holzer, Jr., left to form his own patent prosecution practice.

Kim says his decision to fold Hensley Kim into Polsinelli Shughart came to be after they were introduced earlier this year by Marcus Ollig, a Denver-based legal recruiter with The Advocates, who had been advising both firms on their local strategic initiatives. The two firms then began discussing a formal tie-up soon after the introduction.

Since founding Hensley Kim in 2002, Kim says he's been approached by more than a dozen large law firms about becoming part of their national portfolio. The firm held discussions with some of them, but it was Polsinelli Shughart that ended up making the most sense.

"Polsinelli Shughart is very much committed to the Denver and Rocky Mountain region and the cultural fit was right for us," Kim says. "You sometimes have firms come from out of state into a location to service a large client or fill a geographic gap in their national map, but that's not Polsinelli's view of Colorado. It's an important part of their firm and they're committed to the business community here and the last thing we wanted was to be some forgotten branch office of a national firm."

For Polsinelli Shughart, the hires from Hensley Kim are part of the firm's effort to "tap into the best talent across the country" and focus on "industries that will help grow the regional economy," according to a statement by Denver office managing partner Eugene Commander.

Polsinelli Shughart has been one of the fastest-growing firms in the country over the past few years, posting the highest percentage increase in head count during one of the worst years for that metric in three decades, according to data gleaned in 2009 by sibling publication The National Law Journal.

The firm itself is the product of an October 2008 merger between Kansas City-based Shughart Thompson & Gilroy and Polsinelli Shalton Flanigan Suelthaus.

Last year Polsinelli Shughart acquired seven-lawyer Jefferson City, Mo.-based Hendren Andrae, a move followed this past July by the recruitment of another six lawyers in Los Angeles--including new local office managing partner Lisa Quateman--through the acquisition of real estate and municipal finance boutique Quateman.

Earlier this month Faegre & Benson, a Minneapolis-based firm with a sizable presence in Denver, confirmed it was in merger talks with Indianapolis-based Am Law 200 rival Baker & Daniels. It was Faegre's Denver office that Polsinelli Shughart raided in April for 11 health care lawyers.

Like many other cities across the country, Denver has seen its legal market consolidate in recent years.

In June, 50-year-old Denver general practice shop Isaacson Rosenbaum closed its doors, leaving most of its 35 lawyers to join the local office of Phoenix-based Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, which had been in engaged in merger talks with the firm.


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