Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz has entered the Texas market by merging with Houston’s Spain Chambers, says Ben C. Adams, chairman and chief executive officer of Baker, Donelson. With the addition of Houston, the firm has 17 offices in six states, plus Washington, D.C., and about 600 lawyers. While Adams is in Memphis, Baker, Donelson is the result of several firm mergers and does not identify any city as its headquarters. “Ever since we entered Louisiana in 2004, it has been very apparent that there is an economic integration between Louisiana and Houston,” Adams says. “A lot of our Louisiana clients have operations in Texas, and Texas businesses have operations in Louisiana. They’ve [clients] been screaming all along that we need to be in Houston,” he says. Baker, Donelson began looking for a potential merger in Houston about 18 months ago, Adams says. “When the recession hit, we were pretty conservative about our growth and wanted to be sure we could see where the economy was going,” he says. “It has taken a while, frankly, to find the right fit. Houston is a very large market, a complicated market.” Negotiations between Baker, Donelson and Spain Chambers began in earnest in the spring of this year, and the merger became effective Thursday, Oct. 21, says Brad E. Chambers (pictured), former managing shareholder of Spain Chambers and managing shareholder of the Houston office of the merged firm. “We were not looking to merge,” Chambers says. “They came and approached us.” He says Spain Chambers lawyers had a number of meetings with Baker, Donelson shareholders; and “the more we met, the more we felt it was the right thing to do.” Chambers says he and his colleagues became convinced that the merger would be advantageous for the firm’s existing clients by providing an expanded geographic base. He says the culture of the two firms also is a good fit, because both are committed to their clients and their employees. Chambers declines to release client names but says all the firm’s major clients are happy with the merger. “Categorically, we have not lost a single client,” he says. All seven lawyers with the former Spain Chambers are joining the merged firm, as is a recent law graduate; the firm will maintain the name Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, he says. About 80 percent of Spain Chambers’ business has been commercial litigation with about 20 percent transactions, he says. Houston shareholders in the merged firm, in addition to Chambers, are Eddy De Los Santos, Adam W. Green, Jeffrey W. Hastings and H. Daniel Spain. Houston associates with the merged firm are Bobbie Stratton, Lee Wilson and Valerie Henderson, who is awaiting the results of the Texas July bar exam. “We’re very enthusiastic about the merger’s possibilities and opportunities,” Chambers says.
-- Jeanne Graham