Cincinnati Business Courier — Dinsmore's Domination: Inside the National Growth of Cincinnati's Largest Law Firm
The Cincinnati Business Courier's weekly cover story on March 12, 2021 featured Dinsmore and its national growth under the leadership of Chairman and Managing Partner George Vincent. Entitled "Dinsmore's Domination: The Long Hallway," the article covers how the firm has become a powerful national presence while maintaining the advantage for clients of a Midwestern price structure, work ethic and values. Excerpts from the article are below.
Dinsmore & Shohl managing partner George Vincent still comes in every day to the law firm’s mostly empty office on the 19th floor of the downtown Cincinnati’s First Financial Center. He made the decision when he started at Dinsmore in 1982 that work is work and home was home.
But while the offices of Cincinnati’s largest law firm are quiet – the majority of its 223 local attorneys are working from home – Dinsmore is anything but.
Many of the nation’s top law firms saw pay cuts, layoffs and furloughs amid the pandemic. Dinsmore added 62 lawyers to its rolls nationwide, expanding 17% over the previous year. That’s more than 660% the national average, bringing its attorney headcount to 733. In the past 12 months it’s opened an office in Tampa and merged with Wooden McLaughlin in Indianapolis, which brought it three new offices in Indiana.
“We decided 20 years ago that we had to become broader, deeper and bigger to continue to service the clients we had,” Vincent said.
Since 2015 Dinsmore has expanded to 16 new markets, through mergers with other firms. ... Now, as Dinsmore has achieved national scale, its focus turns to depth. ... Vincent said Dinsmore can provide the same national platform as huge coastal firms, but its Cincinnati location offers an advantage.
“We provide a Midwestern work ethic, and values, at a cost that’s significantly lower than our brothers and sisters on the coasts,” he said.
Josh Lorentz, chair of Dinsmore’s booming intellectual property (IP) department, joined the firm back in 2001. At that time, the IP group consisted of Lorentz and 14 other attorneys based almost exclusively in Cincinnati. ... [Dinsmore] wound up merging with Gifford Krass, adding 17 new attorneys and offices in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
“The vast majority of our growth has been adding on to and assimilating people who Dinsmore has worked well with in the past,” Lorentz said.
Today that IP department consists of 125 attorneys and is the firm’s third largest, behind commercial litigation and corporate sectors.
Mergers and lateral hiring in new markets aren’t the only way Dinsmore has grown. The firm prides itself on its entrepreneurial bent.
Marty Dunn joined Dinsmore in 2008. He previously worked at another large Ohio firm, Baker & Hostetler. Dunn was Ohio’s first Black partner-in-charge of a Cincinnati law office. At the time, Dinsmore had 325 attorneys and Dunn was attracted to the idea of joining a firm that was expanding regionally. He said it’s grown beyond what he could have imagined back then, at the tail end of the aughts.
Now Dunn serves on the law firm’s board, its executive committee and is the chair of Dinsmore’s diversity committee.
Dunn said that Dinsmore has a practice group structure, but it doesn’t have firm restrictions like a quota for billable hours each attorney much achieve every month. Lawyers have the ability to reach outside of their practice group if they want to pursue a client. They don’t have to seek permission, but there is accountability.
“It’s not the Wild West, but you’re given the chance to follow your passion or your hunch about a business development or opportunity,” he said. “We’ve grown in size, but still maintain that scrappy, small-firm culture, and that’s difficult to achieve.”
Allison Goico, the chair of Dinsmore’s labor and employment department and a member of the firm’s board, described that culture as “collegial.”
“We make an investment in making sure partners get to know each other. It’s a priority,” she said.
Vincent described that as Dinsmore’s “long hallway.” Though the firm is national in scope, its attorney can just shout down the hallway to a colleague. Only that proverbial hallway extends from Boston to San Diego.
With that long hallway in place, Vincent’s goal is to build up the bullpen. Many of Dinsmore’s satellite offices have 10 to 20 attorneys. He wants more.
“The next generation will have the ability to carve a path,” Vincent said. “I’m excited to see what they’ll do.”
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