Jaffe to merge with big Midwest law firm

In a bid to tap into a broader field of potential talent and bolster its service offerings, the law firm Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss PC is joining forces with a larger player in the legal sector.

The Southfield-based Jaffe firm, with an additional office in downtown Detroit, announced Sunday that it has entered into an agreement with the firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in a deal that’s set to close on Dec. 31.

The merged firm will have more than 800 attorneys in more than a dozen offices stretching as far west as Denver, and about $525 million in revenue.

Once the merger is complete, executives then plan to undertake a transition period during which Jaffe will likely add “Taft” to its branding and take on the name of Taft at a later, undetermined date.

For executives at Jaffe — which stands as the 11th-largest law firm in Michigan with about 120 attorneys, according to Crain’s data — the move to pursue a merger with a larger firm was a “long-term strategic decision,” and made for “a deliberative process,” said Mark Cooper, the firm’s CEO.

Talks between the two firms have been ongoing for about 19 months, according to executives at both firms.

Jaffe executives stressed that the move to combine with a larger firm is not one done so much out of necessity, but of a recognition of the changing landscape for the firm’s clients and the broader business world.

“As your clients grow, you have to ensure that you grow ahead of them,” said Arthur Weiss, chairman of Jaffe.

“That’s critical, and if not, you’ll have failings (as a law firm). Our clients have grown significantly, so we made a strategic decision that in order to outgrow our clients (and provide) services, quality and added value, we needed to find a partner that would merge that concept and take us to the next level.”

Post-merger, the current Jaffe leadership team will continue to lead and make Detroit market decisions, and many will step into firm-wide leadership roles, serving on Taft’s executive committee, all other major committees of the firm and chairing practice groups. 

Taft was founded in Cincinnati, but its executives tout having a “non-headquarters model.” The larger firm aims to supply increased capital and resources to the firms that come under their umbrella, said Robert Hicks, the firm’s Indianapolis-based chairman and managing partner.