Thursday, December 3, 2020

PNC Bank bought Balch Bingham's No. 2 revenue producer, and one day after our report about PNC's commitment to diversity, Balch launches program to boost minority- and woman-owned businesses

Recent Balch Bingham associates

Birmingham's Balch and Bingham law firm yesterday announced the launch of a program to boost minority- and woman-owned businesses. The announcement comes one day after a Legal Schnauzer report about Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank, which recently purchased BBVA USA (Balch's No. 2 revenue producer, after only Alabama Power), and its commitment to diversity via an alliance with long-time outside law firm, Ballard Spahr of Philadelphia.   

In our Tuesday post (12/1/20), we asked: Would Balch, desperate to keep its revenue stream flowing, try to horn in on the 70-year relationship between PNC Bank and Ballard Spahr? Yesterday's announcement indicates the answer is yes. It also writes another sad chapter in Balch's deceitful, discriminatory, and underhanded (even criminal) actions on matters of race -- which include historic ties to segregationist governor George Wallace, including a 1960s highway-funds scandal with connections to Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard Robert Shelton, and the more recent North Birmingham Superfund bribery scandal, an environmental-racism scheme that Balch allegedly orchestrated, leading to the indictment of two of its partners. 

Still being written is news about a $75-million lawsuit from former Drummond Company executive David Roberson that threatens to unearth mounds of dirt that the U.S. Department of Justice apparently ignored in the Superfund criminal matter. Could much of that dirt blow back on Balch? The answer is yes, but you would never know that from reading the firm's press release dated 12/2/20. The release would have you believe Balch is a paragon of progressive thinking on matters of diversity. To all of the unflattering Balch-related adjectives noted above, we probably can now add shameless. From the press release via Cision and PR Newswire:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Dec. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Balch & Bingham, a corporate law firm with more than 200 lawyers across the Southeast and Texas, is proud to announce the launch of Balch Business Boost, a new program to support entrepreneurs of color and/or women-owned businesses by providing free or low-cost legal services.

The program leverages the experience and talents of Balch attorneys to help emerging and small business owners in several markets across the U.S. as they navigate legal and entrepreneurial challenges to building and sustaining success. The program will also help businesses fuel growth, eliminate barriers and spark momentum.

"The events of the last few months have re-focused our attention on the inequities that remain in our society. It is imperative that we all work together to improve the lives of people and groups who have been forced to overcome unnecessary barriers to achieving success," said Stan Blanton, managing partner, Balch & Bingham.

Balch's attorneys will apply their creative and collaborative approach to assist participating entrepreneurs and small businesses in addressing a wide range of challenges, from employment issues, real estate and corporate matters, to financing, intellectual property and data privacy.  

"We gave thoughtful consideration to what we could do as a firm to effect change, tackle systemic injustices and help businesses succeed in a way that builds on our experience as attorneys. As we reviewed some of the initiatives across the country and listened to community leaders, we concluded that a program to assist small and disadvantaged minority- and/or women-owned businesses could have a meaningful, positive impact in our communities. We believe that Balch Business Boost will help give businesses an extra 'boost' to accelerate their growth and progress," said Blanton.

Events of the last few months have "re-focused [Balch's] attention on the inequities that remain in our society." Really? Does that include inequities that Balch helped create or reinforce -- such as in the Superfund case, where the firm allegedly sought to defeat Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations by bribing a state lawmaker to convince the mostly black residents of North Birmingham not to have their soil tested for industrial toxins.

Any mention in the press release of the EPA scandal, which drew national coverage from The Washington Post and other major news oulets? Any mention of Balch's historic ties to segregation and George Wallace? Any mention of the firm's roundabout ties to a Ku Klux Klan leader. Nope, nope, and nope. This is revisionist history of the highest order. The release does tell us how Balch Business Boost is designed to work:

The firm's program launches initially in Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala., Atlanta and Augusta, Ga., Gulfport and Jackson, Miss., Jacksonville, Fla., and Houston. Businesses eligible to apply for the program should be owned by women or entrepreneurs of color and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Less than an average of $400,000 in annual operating revenue over the past two years
  • Less than $500,000 in assets or $250,000 in liquid assets.

Inclusion is subject to additional requirements, and acceptance will be determined on a case-by-case basis. To be considered, please visit and complete the application.

In addition to launching the program, Balch is collaborating with community organizations in our locations that provide complementary services and support entrepreneurs of color and/or women-owned businesses. The firm hopes these organizations will help identify businesses and entrepreneurs who have faced disproportionate challenges in recent months, as well as other businesses that could benefit from the additional boost Balch can provide through free or low-cost legal counsel.

"We believe diversity and equality bring important value to our communities. We are undertaking this effort to help entrepreneurs and businesses thrive, which in turn benefits our entire economy," said Blanton. "Through this program, we hope to promote entrepreneurship and economic growth that will unlock the potential for advancement for many across our footprint."

For additional program information, please visit

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