Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Merger to form top 50 legal giant in Atlanta could siphon partners from Balch Bingham office, adding more pain for reeling Birmingham-based firm

Jay Town and Mark Crosswhite

The Birmingham legal community is aflutter now that photos have surfaced of Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite (former Balch Bingham law firm partner) gathering with U.S. Attorney Jay Town in a meeting apparently designed to rig the summer 2018 North Birmingham Superfund bribery trial. Now, Balch might be taking a hit from another angle, according to a report at the blog

Troutman Sanders, one of Atlanta's powerhouse firms, is merging with Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton, creating a top 50 outfit nationally. The merger reportedly could include Balch Bingham partners in Atlanta, which would represent a talent drain on the already reeling Birmingham firm.

K.B. Forbes, publisher of, provides background for a merger that is set to take place in less than two months:

They hurt. They really hurt.

The embarrassing and compromising photos of Balch Bingham’s former partner and now CEO of sister-wife Alabama Power Mark A. Crosswhite apparently paying for drinks with Birmingham’s U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town has rocked the establishment in Birmingham.

Making a mockery of the legal system and affirming the feeling of blatant corruption behind closed doors, the photos illustrate why numerous, high-caliber, money-making partners with spectacular reputations have left the embattled law firm, including legacy partner Jesse S. Vogtle, Jr.

In recent days, Balch Bingham has tried pathetically to put a happy face on all the horrific news with more P.R. fluff by announcing the opening of a “Houston office” with one full-time attorney and one part-time attorney who will split time between Houston and Birmingham.

How embarrassing!

Things could get worse for Balch Bingham, as Forbes explains:

Now comes news that Troutman Sanders, one of Atlanta’s major, powerhouse law firms, is merging with Pepper Hamilton of Philadelphia, creating a Top 50 giant.
Like Balch, Troutman Sanders has served as a key law firm for Southern Company and its subsidiaries. Years ago, Balch arrived to Atlanta and planted its flag in Troutman Sanders territory irritating the powerful firm and allegedly trying to “steal” or steer away more Southern Company legal work.

In recent days, Troutman Sanders is expanding its operations even in the shadow of the mega-merger coming April 1, 2020.

Will this expansion include Balch Bingham partners in Atlanta?

If the monolithic new firm on the block tries to poach Balch's talent, it might represent poetic justice, Forbes writes:

Balch Bingham allegedly tried to “steal” competitor Burt Newsome’s legal work servicing banks; yet, the foolish plan completely backfired. Newsome is now a hero in the legal community for not taking it on the chin from the bullies at Balch Bingham.

Ironically, the same could be said in Atlanta. Years ago, Balch Bingham allegedly tried to “steal” competitor Troutman Sanders’s legal work in Atlanta.

Last year, we wrote that Balch’s entire footprint appears to have Athlete’s foot.

The partners at the satellite offices at Balch Bingham need to assess their future free of Balch Bingham’s Birmingham baggage.

Troutman Pepper could be the perfect place to call “my office.”

In the meantime, order a Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte and get ready to make your move.

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