Christopher (Chris) S. Dunn, Member of the Firm, in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Nashville office, was quoted in the Daily Report, in “As Big Law Moves In, Native Firms Have Advantages in Battle for Clients and Talent,” by Thomas Spigolon. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Despite increasing competition from Big Law firms in emerging markets, native law firms have advantages such as nimbleness and market familiarity if they choose to compete for talent and clients.

Emerging markets like Nashville, Charlotte and Minneapolis have seen their share of Big Law firms moving in and luring lawyers—and their clients—with more resources or higher billing rates.

But legal industry consultant Joshua Peck said smaller, native firms can survive such an onslaught from Big Law as long as they play to their strengths.

Billing Upsides

While Big Law has had the advantage of being able to lure talent by offering higher rates, there’s also a downside to that.

In Nashville, clients began to see higher billing rates as large firms entered the market to compete in its dominant health care industry.

Polsinelli was among the early Am Law 100 firms that saw the financial benefits of competing against native firms after luring two attorneys away from Frost Brown to open its office in 2015. Six years later, K&L Gates brought 27 attorneys on board from a variety of firms in the region to open a Nashville office focusing on health care and financial services.

Chris Dunn, managing member of Am Law 200 firm Epstein Becker Green’s Nashville office, told The American Lawyer in December that clients’ biggest tension point since Big Law firms moved into the Nashville market has been their higher hourly rates.

“Nashville historically has been a midsize market rate town,” Dunn said.

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