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Blackwell Sanders to merge

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Blackwell Sanders Matheny Weary & Lombardi LLP, the second largest law firm in Kansas City, announced April 17 that it will unite with Peper Martin Jensen Maichel and Hetlage, one of St. Louis' leading law firms, according to a news release from Blackwell Sanders.

The new firm will be called Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin LLP. With more than 300 attorneys, it will be one of the three largest in the region and among the 75 largest nationwide, the release stated.

"Specifically at the Springfield office of Blackwell Sanders, we expect this merger to enhance our ability to provide the full services of a major, regional law firm to clients in Springfield," said Dick Dorr, managing partner of the Springfield office.

"This is a client-driven merger," said John Phillips, a member of the Blackwell Sanders executive committee. "It will enable the new firm to offer our clients in this region unparalleled strength in a number of areas, including corporate finance and securities, mergers and acquisitions, labor and employment, employee benefits, education, environmental law, litigation, tax, real estate and intellectual property.

"Many of these clients are expanding their operations across the region and indeed, nationally and internationally. We will now be better structured to serve them," he said.

"Many of our national and internationally based clients are increasingly seeking the opportunity to work with one firm across an entire region," said Ron Schowalter, managing partner of Peper Martin. "This merger will position us to serve their needs across the central Midwest."

Besides Kansas City and St, Louis, the new firm will have offices in Springfield; Overland Park, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; Belleville, Ill.; and London. Including support staff, the new firm will employ close to 700 people.

Blackwell Sanders was founded in 1916. It is a full-service firm with 230 attorneys. Blackwell Sanders' Springfield office, which opened in 1996, now includes nine attorneys.

Peper Martin was founded in 1941. It has 82 attorneys operating in a diversified practice that involves nearly every area of civil law. In 1997, Peper Martin greatly expanded its intellectual property practice by merging with the St. Louis law firm of Kalish & Gilster.

Partners of both firms have approved the merger, which is expected to close June 1. All offices will remain in their current locations, the release stated. It is expected that the combined firm will continue a strategy of aggressive growth.

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