Two midsized law firms based in Seattle are combining forces to bolster their services and extend their reach.
Foster Pepper, founded in 1904, will combine with Garvey Schubert Barer, established in 1966, the firms said Monday. The merger, which takes effect in September, follows votes by the partners of both firms.
The merged firm, to be called Foster Garvey, will have the equivalent of 180 full-time attorneys. That would make it among the region’s largest law firms.
Garvey Schubert Chair Greg Duff said the firm had been searching since last fall for ways to expand its offerings but had no appetite to fold itself into one of the large national firms that increasingly see Seattle as a crucial market.
“We were looking for a way to combine with someone very much like us,” he said.
That coincided with Foster Pepper’s examination of paths forward, said the firm’s chair, Steve DiJulio.
Foster Pepper has lost several groups of attorneys since early 2018, according to reports in the trade press. American Lawyer reported in January that 13 real-estate and land-use attorneys had moved to Stoel Rives, and smaller handfuls had gone last year to two national firms opening local offices.
Discounting the impact of those defections, DiJulio said, “We still have an extremely healthy real-estate practice.” The combination with Garvey was “an opportunity to move forward,” he said.
Foster Pepper currently has offices only in Seattle and Spokane, though DiJulio said its practice includes national clients. Garvey Schubert has offices in those cities and also Portland, New York, Washington, D.C., and Beijing.
Their clients include the Port of Seattle, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Bank, Costco Wholesale, Saltchuk, Space Needle LLC and the Washington State Convention Center.
A spokesman said that the combined firm’s 180 attorneys would rank it 230th on the Law360 survey of 400 largest firms based on headcount. Neither firm has participated in the AmLaw rankings of law firms by revenue.
Puget Sound Business Journal reported the talks between the firms in February.