Mixed Fate For Black Law Firms

A dozen firms gained prominence in the high stakes of corporate law in the '90s. Where are they now?

& Dixon L.L.C. Two other partners formed Brothers & Thompson, a three-attorney firm. Jones, Ware & Grenard dissolved in 1998, with its attorneys creating smaller firms or individual practices.

The changing business environment explains some of the fortunes of the 12 firms. The latter 1990s brought increased competition for winning corporate work. Joint ventures between minority and majority law firms fizzled. Those firms that have managed to stay alive are benefiting from long histories and solid track records as well as enduring relationships with corporate contacts, namely a growing crop of African American in-house corporate counsels, which has mushroomed from 16 two years ago to 26 nowadays at Fortune 500 companies.

With more top black attorneys seeking enticing opportunities as partners at majority law firms and in-house counsels at corporations, Otis McGee observes that there is less enthusiasm among the newer generation of black lawyers to risk starting their own minority law firms. Jacqueline H. Sellers, president & CEO of Lewis & Munday, sees it differently. Up-and-coming firms are out there. Sellers says she has met and assigned work to a vigorous community of small minority law firms.

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