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 American Lawyer, in “Big Law's Flood into Boomtown Nashville Tests Client Loyalties,” by Chris O’Malley. (Read the full version – subscription required.)
Following is an excerpt:
A stampede of national law firms into Nashville in recent years left the Music City’s legal landscape in a dust cloud of confusion, as giants merged with local firms or raided others of talent as they set up offices from scratch.
The upheaval forced some clients to reassess relationships with outside counsel, but the effect on clients hasn’t been as chaotic on daily operations as one might expect, say observers of Nashville’s legal market. …
Many corporate clients and law firms in Nashville declined to comment on how Big Law’s arrival has altered client relationships.
However, Chris Dunn, managing member of the Am Law 200 firm Epstein Becker Green’s Nashville office, said the greatest tension point for many clients has been Big Law’s higher hourly rates. “Nashville historically has been a midsize market rate town,” Dunn said.
Indeed, some clients are seeing significantly higher invoices, according to billing data from Wolters Kluwer. In its latest Real Rate Report, the firm said the average hourly rate for law firm partners specializing in corporate law was $521 in 2022, up from $407 in 2020—a 28% jump.
Clients also are having to adapt to lawyers playing musical chairs. According to investigative intelligence from Decipher, Nashville led all secondary markets in lateral moves in 2021, and the activity continues unabated.
“I do think there has been a fair amount of (attorney) movement in the Nashville market, and it has been picking up this year,” Dunn said.