Barnes & Thornburg Grand Rapids grows 10x in 10 years


Barnes & Thornburg has an office in Grand Rapids. Photo via

This month, the Grand Rapids office of Barnes & Thornburg celebrates 10 years of serving clients in West Michigan and across the state.

National firm in the community

The office first opened in 2003, with some resistance from the existing legal community, which questioned its commitment to the area.

Since that time, the firm has proven that it is committed to being an integral part of the Grand Rapids community.

“We have a large national presence, and yet, we are very much ingrained in each of our local communities,” said Tracy Larsen, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg's Grand Rapids office. “That is part of the culture of our firm. We believe that ‘where we live is where we give,’ to borrow from a quote I’ve heard from Meijer recently. So all of our offices are actively involved in their local communities.”

The firm has partnered with Ceasar Chavez Elementary School, giving $10,000 a year to the school for three years to support arts education, field trips and cultural interactions.

This year, the firm initiated a partnership with Burton Elementary, where it has plans to actively support the school through volunteerism, various in-kind gifts and financial donations — including clothing for kids, field trip sponsorships and playground equipment installation.

The firm’s attorneys, whom it points out are mostly longtime Michigan residents, serve in leadership roles for several civic and charitable organizations around the community and state, including Junior Achievement of the Michigan Great Lakes, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, YMCA, YWCA and West Michigan Legal Aid.

Grand Rapids market

The Grand Rapids office has proven to be a successful business venture for the firm as well, with revenues growing 10-fold since 2003.

Twenty-nine attorneys operate out of the Grand Rapids office, but Larsen said that at any given time 40 to 50 attorneys are working on Michigan matters.

Last year, 200 attorneys provided legal services to Michigan businesses. The firm employs 650 professionals around the country and offers services in more than 50 practice areas.

"Best athlete"

“It is a very different business model that we brought here, where we will go to the ‘best athlete,’ no matter where (he or she is) located, as opposed to simply the best athlete that may exist within the local community.”

Larsen added, “We very much run our practices on a cross-office basis to get the greatest efficiency possible, and we have deeper expertise, because of our ability to funnel all that work to particular individuals and then we take advantage of that expertise here locally.”


The firm has opened five additional offices since 2003 — in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Columbus, Ohio, Wilmington, Del. and Los Angeles — bringing its total number of offices to 12. Larsen expects additional expansions are likely in the firm’s future.

“I think that 10 years is an important milestone, but it is simply a point in the process,” he said. “We will continue to grow nationally and add additional resources that will be available to West Michigan businesses.”

“We will continue to grow our West Michigan presence also," he said. "We are delighted to be here.”

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