Area law firms reach verdict, ordering more space, attorneys

BOULDER — Two of the region’s largest law firms are physically expanding their offices to accommodate the addition of attorneys, while others grow through mergers with new attorneys and staff.

Attorneys in the Boulder Valley’s legal community are putting their money where their optimism is, banking on a rebounding real estate market to the patent and trademark needs of a growing number of local entrepreneurs.

The offices of Boulder-based Berg Hill Greenleaf & Ruscitti LLP will boast a multimedia room and seven new offices for attorneys in 3,500 square feet of new space once its remodel is complete in February or March. The expansion upstairs at Berg Hill’s current location at1712 Pearl St., will give the firm a total of more than 20,000 square feet of room.

Not to be outdone, Denver-based Holland & Hart LLP has a plan to add 14 attorney offices, support-staff space and a multimedia space in a 7,097-square-foot remodel at its existing office in Boulder. The firm’s Boulder office at 1800 Broadway, Suite 300, is 24,400 square feet, said Chris Gunlikson, the office’s administrative partner.

Holland & Hart’s office in Boulder added its 34th attorney on Jan. 3, bringing its total staff to 63.

Berg Hill founder George Berg said it was time to expand when he realized he couldn’t get everyone in the firm — a total staff of nearly 70 — into the existing conference room. The firm has added two attorneys in the past year for a total of 40, and another is to join the firm Jan. 15.

“We’ve also had some big litigation in the last year,” added Cathy Thorne, director of administration, “and we’re expecting more with the real estate market getting hot again.”

“This lets natural light into the interior offices,” Berg said. “It will create a better capacity for the short term to put everyone in one meeting room — or large groups of attorneys, anyway.”

Pearl Street Mall Properties is doing the remodeling work. Berg Hill owns its specific office space, with firm partners affiliated with the ownership of the building.

The Holland & Hart remodel also features glass and natural light, Gunlikson said.

The remodel was designed by Henry Beer of Stantec Inc. (NYSE: STN), which owns architecture and design firm Communication Arts in Boulder. Wyatt Construction Co. Inc. in Boulder will build the new offices.

“We’re really trying to have a more efficient use of square footage and open space and interior glass to allow the natural light to come in,” Gunlikson said.

One of the firm’s Boulder-based attorneys, Michael Drapkin, was one of three Colorado lawyers who were instrumental in bringing a U.S. Patent Office branch to Denver, and Gunlikson said Holland & Hart’s growth is being driven by the resulting additional intellectual-property work as well as its real estate and finance practices.

Some attorneys who work from home or other offices will be able to come back into the Boulder office to work once the expansion is complete, Gunlikson said. No final seating chart has been made up, yet.

Some people working in conference rooms or other temporary spaces will get their own offices.

“We’re full, there’s no question about that. We’ve made good use of our existing space,” Gunlikson said.

Two other Boulder Valley firms are growing organically without moving into new space, yet.

Kansas City, Missouri-based Lathrop & Gage LLP merged with Greenlee Sullivan in Boulder Dec. 12, creating an intellectual property firm focused on the life-science industry.

Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed. But Greenlee Sullivan’s five partners, two associate attorneys, three patent agents and support staff will join Lathrop & Gage’s Boulder office at 4845 Pearl East Circle, said Curtis Vock, the Lathrop & Gage partner in charge of the Boulder office.

The Greenlee Sullivan office in Boulder will close as a result of the merger. Some existing Lathrop & Gage personnel in Boulder will move to the firm’s Denver office to make room for the Greenlee Sullivan personnel, Vock said.

The firm’s Boulder office has 15 lawyers and 23 other staff members.

Lathrop & Gage clients include the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and Albeo Technologies Inc., which was just bought by GE Lighting, among others. The firm has 320 attorneys in 11 offices nationwide, from Los Angeles to New York.

“It’s very exciting. The Boulder office of Lathrop & Gage is one of the biggest intellectual property offices around,” Vock said.

Also fairly new to the market is Sage Law Group LLC in Broomfield, which may move to Denver in 2013, said Rex O’Neal, who formed Sage early in 2012 with a “dream team” of six other attorneys focused on corporate mergers and acquisitions as well as intellectual property licensing.

O’Neal formerly was executive partner at what now is the Faegre Baker Daniels LLP firm office in Denver. When O’Neal left, partner John Marcil was named to lead the office.

About 30 people — 15 of whom are attorneys — work in the 16,000-square-foot Faegre Baker Daniels offices in Boulder at 1470 Walnut St., Suite 300, where there’s still room for expansion, Marcil said. The firm added two litigators to the Boulder office in 2012 and plans to add more in the coming months, Marcil said.

Dallas Heltzell contributed to this report.

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