With over 350 attorneys practicing in more than 70 areas, Barnes & Thornburg has leased three sixth-floor suites in the Campau Square Plaza Building at 99 Monroe Ave. NW for its very first office in Michigan and seventh overall.
“Crowe Chizek has known Barnes & Thornburg for many years. We have a lot of respect for them, and we are sure they will be very successful in this market,” said Bob Herr, Crowe Chizek managing partner.
Alan A. Levin, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg, felt that opening an office here was a natural fit for the regional strategy the firm adopted a few years back.
“We have been extremely fortunate to have already established strong relationships with several of Michigan’s largest companies,” said Levin. “The time was definitely right to open an office in Grand Rapids.”
Tracy T. Larsen has joined Barnes & Thornburg as a partner and will manage the new office, which opened with two attorneys, Larsen and Kimberly Thomas, on June 4. Larsen came to Barnes from Warner Norcross & Judd, where he practiced corporate and securities law.
“We have a very bullish growth view for Grand Rapids. In fact, we are talking to several attorneys right now, basically best of class in the community. It’s very important to us that we get people who are connected to the community here,” said Larsen.
“We’re interested in growing to at least 30 attorneys by year 2006. Although, candidly, I think we’ll beat that growth projection just based on the market reaction to our entry and the reaction from clients,” he added. “We’ve achieved similar growth in our Chicago office and we look for the same type of response here.”
The Best Lawyers in America publication has recognized Larsen since 1997, and Chambers USA America’s Leading Business Lawyers placed him among the outstanding attorneys in the state for 2003-2004.
Larson graduated from Hope College and the Indiana University School of Law. He is the immediate past chairman of the Business Law Section of the State Bar and a founding officer and director of the Association for Corporate Growth, Western Michigan Chapter.
“Virtually all of my national and international clients have already moved their corporate work to Barnes & Thornburg,” said Larsen.
“We have significant depth in all of the core skill sets that are needed by businesses — large and medium-size businesses and, most significantly, entrepreneurial and growth companies. One of my personal strong points is helping these companies find the capital and assist with the planning to get them to that next stage.”
Thomas has joined the firm as an associate, also coming over to Barnes from Warner. She has practiced law in Grand Rapids since 1998, specializing in corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions. Thomas holds degrees from the University of Michigan and from Notre Dame Law School.
Of all the areas that Barnes engages in, Larsen said one of the firm’s most unique practices is in life sciences.
“With the great things that are happening with the Van Andel Institute and some of the work that Birgit Klohs is doing, life sciences is an area where we can help the community,” he said. “We’re nationally involved in the life sciences and that is a very specialized skill set that, frankly, just didn’t exist before in this particular market.”
Larsen told the Business Journal that he and Thomas have access to the 350 attorneys that are with Barnes, and that he already has lawyers in four of the firm’s offices working on projects for local clients.
So why locate the first office in Michigan here, and not in metro Detroit? Larsen said Barnes and Thornburg came here because it saw the city as a good fit for its mission, which is to remain a large midwestern law firm with depth, and because the region matches its corporate lifestyle.
“Barnes is very committed to supporting the local community. That was very important to me,” said Larsen. “They find the western Michigan business community and culture akin to some of the markets they’ve already had substantial expansion in.”