Nashville Boom, Health Fuel Epstein Becker Green Growth Bet

Epstein Becker Green, five years after opening an office in Nashville, Tennessee, is counting on his healthcare strength to fend off Big Law’s rivals in the now hot legal market.

The office has grown to around a dozen lawyers and the law firm Nov 1 announced his hiring John Carpenterwho advises creditors and debtors in healthcare bankruptcy proceedings, from local law firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis.

Epstein Becker is moving from his temporary location in the city new room in the South Gulch neighborhood with quick access to major healthcare systems. Doubling the company’s size in Nashville is a “very feasible proposition in the near future,” said Mark Lutes, chairman of the company’s board of directors.

He is not alone with growth ambitions. K&L Gates, Jackson Lewis and Womble Bond Dickinson have all opened offices in Nashville in the past year. According to media reports, Holland & Knight is said to be in merger talks with 260 attorney Waller Lansden.

The region’s economic growth is drawing attention. Historically known as a health hub, Nashville has hosted tech companies like Inc. and Oracle Corp. as well as startups such as PaintJet Robotics, legally known as Foreman Technologies Inc.

Nashville had the strongest economic growth of any major US metro area in 2021, corresponding Stessa Inc., a real estate investment company that analyzed data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Census Bureau and Redfin.

“Here in Nashville, this combination of things is happening that has created a pretty booming economy,” said Tishler, who ran Waller Lansden from 2008 to 2014.

Port of Healthcare

Nashville is hometown to more than 500 healthcare companies that operate nationally and internationally and generate more than $92 billion in annual sales. 17 public healthcare companies are headquartered in the region, which supports more than 570,000 healthcare jobs.

“It’s the Silicon Valley of for-profit healthcare,” said Christopher Dunn, head of Epstein Becker’s healthcare engineering team, who joined Epstein Becker in January from Waller Lansden.

The firm’s customers include Aetna Life Insurance Co., The New York and Presbyterian Hospitals, Quest Diagnostics Inc. and Rite Aid Corp., according to Bloomberg lawsuit data. In 2020, Epstein Becker was partner Paul Gilbert rented as General Counsel of Rite Aid Corp.

Epstein Becker is leveraging its existing healthcare clients to gain a foothold in the crowded market, said Nashville resident Barbara Mayden, a former Big Law attorney-turned-legal recruiter at Young Mayden.

“Where it would have been very difficult for them 20 years ago to find a big way into the Nashville market, suddenly they can make it,” she said.

Epstein Becker also specializes in employment law and commercial disputes.

Great law moves in

Local law firms like Bass, Berry & Sims and Waller Lansden have been the biggest players in the Nashville market for decades. A number of regional firms have entered the market in recent years, including Frost Brown Todd and Adams and Reese, said Candice Reed, executive vice president of legal recruiter Latitude.

“One of the reasons the local Nashville firm has been so successful is that they were able to serve the same demanding clients at hourly rates that have historically been lower than the big firms’ rates,” said Reed, responsible partner of Latitude Tennessee operations.

All that changed when K&L Gates moved to Nashville in 2021. The Company added more than 25 attorneys from Waller Lansden, Butler Snow, Dickinson Wright and Bass and Berry & Sims.

Remote working has allowed national firms to leverage their flexibility in hiring attorneys in and around Nashville for a firm that may be based in New York or Atlanta, Reed said.

The influx of Big Law sparked bidding wars for legal talent in the area and forced local firms to pay young workers more to prevent them from fleeing, she said.

“Now that the big boys are coming, a lot of people are going to want to be one of the big boys,” Mayden said.

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