Virginia Fry and Gary Powell, co-managing partners of Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP’s Springfield office
1990s Decade Award Winner: Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP
By Sarah Erst
Law firm Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP traces its Springfield roots back to 1996 when Blackwell Sanders opened its doors with just nine employees in Hammons Tower. Following a 2008 merger with Husch & Eppenberger, the resulting firm, Husch Blackwell Sanders, has 65 local employees.
The coming together of the two firms brought expanded legal expertise to the Ozarks, says Virginia Fry, co-managing partner of the firm’s Springfield office.
“Both firms have strengths in different areas,” she says.
“So bringing the group of really very talented attorneys together provided more opportunity for work to actually get done locally. It also afforded, if there was something that came in that maybe we didn’t handle, the resources within a much larger firm to address those issues,” Fry adds.
The firm’s major practice areas include corporate, securities, real estate, trust and probate and labor employment law, according to previous Springfield Business Journal coverage.
Husch Blackwell views itself as a firm that works to promote economic development in the community, says Springfield co-managing partner Gary Powell.
“We do it both through participation in the chamber (of commerce) and also simply through our ability to deliver legal services and business services to businesses to help them locate here and grow and develop here in Springfield,” he says.
Providing that support locally benefits the entire region, Fry says.
“If the community does well, everybody does well,” she adds. “I think that’s kind of your obligation (for) living here, (to contribute) professionally and personally.”
Powell says Husch Blackwell also offers a range of seminars annually to inform local business leaders about important legal issues that can affect their operations.
“It helps us now that we have reached a certain size,” he says. “We’re able to devote more resources to that.”
Though the firm declined to disclose its revenues, its growth has enabled Husch Blackwell to support philanthropic community endeavors.
In 2009, Husch Blackwell had roughly $100,000 built into its local budget for donations that sponsored events and bolstered civic and charitable organizations.
Firmwide, Fry says, Husch Blackwell lends its attorneys’ expertise Legal Aid of Western Missouri, one of four nonprofit entities in the state providing free legal assistance through Legal Services of Missouri to those who can’t afford it.
During 2009, Fry says, the firm’s attorneys spent roughly 983 hours working on pro bono cases.
“I think we’ve always done it to a certain degree,” Powell says. “I think in the last couple of years we’ve really tried to expand the pro bono projects.”
According to Springfield Business Journal’s research for the list of Area’s Largest Law Firms, ranked by the number of local attorneys and then by total local staff, Husch Blackwell is the largest firm in the Ozarks.
With that status comes a responsibility to help others, Powell says.
“Because we are the largest law firm in town, I feel like we do have an obligation to go ahead and to assist those in the community that are unable to assist themselves,” he says.
And fulfilling that responsibility improves quality of life overall, Fry adds.
“There are a lot of reasons why Springfield is a wonderful place to live, and there are a lot of people that have made it a good place to live,” she says. “We try to do our part.”[[In-content Ad]]