by Paul Williams

What, exactly does it take to establish a consistent growth record in the business law field? While many firms boast rapid growth over the last two years, the recession-driven economy sag of the not-so-distant past caused many a business law firm to suffer major dips in revenue. Indeed, a number of firms that had previously seemed unstoppable were forced to downsize, or worse, close their doors entirely.

There are few firms that can claim a record of steady growth and success maintained from formation of the firm, throughout the recession and through to the present. One firm that can is Troop Steuber Pasich Reddick & Tobey, LLP, among the largest and fastest growing business law firms in California. Founded in 1975 by an entrepreneurial team of four attorneys, this fast-trucking practice has grown to 156 lawyers. The firm's growth is propelling a relocation on August 17 from its longstanding home in Westwood to its new 137,500 square-foot quarters in the Twin Towers in Century City, Los Angeles. The story of TSPR & T;'s success might be viewed as a model scenario for fledgling business law practices.

Driven by Clients' Needs

As each of TSPR & T;'s partners will explain, the key to any firm's success is pursuing a highly focused practice development strategy, concentrating on defined areas of business law that specifically address the needs of the clientele, whether they are fast-tracking new ventures, high growth middle-market organizations, or leading privately held and publicly traded companies. TSPR & T;, for example, focuses on Fortune 500 companies with its niche expertise in insurance coverage, entertainment finance and litigation, and specialty finance law.

The law firm that seeks to maintain a steady growth curve should evaluate the quality of services rendered in terms of the contribution made to supporting client growth and meeting client objectives. A firm's partners must continually review their portfolio of offered services, and hone their expertise to address changing complex legal issues. They should also maintain close, ongoing dialogue with clients to learn and respond to client preferences for the delivery of needed services.

TSPR & T;, for example, places a paramount importance on human resource development and management. While many TSPR & T; attorneys graduated at or near the top of their classes from the nation's leading law schools and were members of Law Review and/or Order of the Coif, the firm strives to ensure the highest quality representation and work product by supporting an extensive continuing education program for its attorney staff.

TSPR & T; partners also recommend that growing business law firms invest heavily in support staff development and information technology to keep the entire organization efficiently in step with the latest changes in legal and corporate practices. Professionalism and teamwork can be enhanced by having all members of the firm housed in one centralized location. A common workplace facilitates efficient, close interaction among attorneys and support staff members critical in managing complex transactions and disputes.

Transactional Expertise

When asked to explain the foundation behind consistent growth and success in business law, the partners at TSPR & T; will often site their firm's dedication to building one of the premier business-transaction law practices in Southern California. TSPR & T;'s specialized Business Department represents clients ranging from start-up companies to large, multinational corporations. The Department's Corporate and Securities practice works to design creative approaches to capitalize or recapitalize ventures and established companies in diverse market settings during all stages of their development.

Corporate and Securities attorneys play a key role in a growing business law firm's success. Well trained and experienced specialists in the field are skilled in structuring, negotiating, and documenting virtually every form of corporate finance transaction. Recently, for example, TSPR & T;'s Corporate and Securities attorneys successfully represented a major media corporation in a milestone acquisition merger valued at more than $1.9 billion. These same attorneys also represent clients in a wide variety of international transactions, including financing, licensing and joint ventures. With an eye on the future, the firm's Business Department established an Emerging Growth and Technology Group, which focuses on new and high growth companies, venture capitalism, and initial public offerings. Such attorneys are highly regarded for having strong capabilities in blossoming new areas of law, including the many legal issues associated with the Internet, not the least of which being representation of Internet service providers and companies whose business consists of providing hardware and software based solutions and consumer products and services over the Internet.

Focusing on a specialty is clearly a key success factor for growing firms. As a young business law practice begins to generate more and more business, additional specialty divisions can be added piece by piece, as building blocks. Over the years, for example, TRPR & T;'s Business Department has expanded its expertise into a wider range of practice areas including Financial Services; Specialty Finance; Intellectual Property; Technology; Bankruptcy and Insolvency; and Tax, Estate, Probate and Compensation Planning. The firm has also, over time, built well-respected Entertainment law and Real Estate law divisions.

Going into the next millennium, the best and most successful business law firms will continue to tailor their portfolios of services and pools of expertise to maximize their key value proposition - business law counseling and representation which is driven by client needs and staff expertise to support client growth and strategic development.

Paul Williams is supplements editor for the Los Angeles Business Journal.

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