S.F. Boutique Senn Meulemans Joins With Armstrong Teasdale

by Robert Iafolla

Los Angeles Daily Journal — October 11, 2006

LOS ANGELES – The partnership at the San Francisco litigation boutique Senn Meulemans took a good look at itself earlier this year and found something missing, managing partner Kevin J. Senn said.

"We have a real strength and focus on litigation," said Senn, who co-founded the firm in 1993, "but we had no other lines of business."

After months of searching, negotiating and vetting, the firm consummated a deal that Senn said would expand both its geographic reach and depth of practice expertise.

The firms' nine attorneys joined Midwest-based Armstrong Teasdale, a general-practice, 250-attorney firm, on Monday.

"From our standpoint, this is the culmination of 18 years of practice," Senn said.

For Armstrong Teasdale, which had eight U.S. offices and one in Shanghai, the deal was as much about Senn Meulemans' two Nevada offices as it was about its San Francisco headquarters.

"Discussions really started about Las Vegas opportunities, then we realized how important Reno is, and the more we talked, the more excited we got about San Francisco," said Byron E. Francis, a partner who was involved in talks from the start.

Armstrong Teasdale took over Senn Meulemans' San Francisco office and six attorneys there.  The firm is sending a senior associate who specializes in intellectual property from St. Louis in November.

In Neveda, they claimed Senn Meulemans' three-person Reno office as well as its Las Vegas office, which was manned by a paralegal.  Two Armstrong Teasdale attorneys in Las Vegas will move into that office space.

Although Armstrong Teasdale has taken all of its offices and attorneys, Senn Meulemans will continue to exist as a legal entity due to contractual obligations, Francis said.

Armstrong Teasdale, which was founded in 1901, has its headquarters in St. Louis and has U.S. offices in Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Jefferson City, Mo., Overland Park, Kan., and Edwardsville and Belleville, Ill.

In 2000, the firm opened a Shanghai office, which now houses three lawyers.

Its clients include United Parcel Service, St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, St. Louis University, General Electric's health care division and AmerenUE, one of the Midwest's major utility companies.

Aaron Williams, president of nationwide attorney search firm Aaron Consulting, Inc. in St. Louis, said that Armstrong Teasdale has been an active participant in merger conversations for several decades.

"It's your perennial 'who are they going to merge with next' firm," Williams said.  "But when regional law firms are going after groups outside of their market, the groups they're acquiring don't have that Fortune 500 clientele.  If they did, they'd merge with a national law firm, not a regional [firm]."