Eastman & Smith expands law practice with affiliationsWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The law firm of Eastman & Smith is expanding its practice by affiliating with attorneys formerly practicing at Watkins, Bates & Carey of Toledo, adding expertise to its commercial litigation, employment and estate planning areas.
“We are solidifying our reputation for quality, integrity and depth of coverage in those practice areas with this affiliation,” said Ronald Tice, a member (equivalent to partner) of Eastman & Smith and chairman of its executive committee.
Tice said the new relationship will enhance Eastman & Smith’s existing expertise, specifically in commercial litigation as the firm continues to grow by partnering with talented, hard-working attorneys with established practices.
John Carey said his former firm of Watkins, Bates & Carey had needs for its clients and wanted to find a compatible firm to affiliate with while staying together as a group. His associates joined him in the integration of the two firms except for former partner William Bates, who maintained his own practice.
Carey recently joined Eastman & Smith as a member who specializes in commercial litigation.
Kimberly Kondalski, who specializes in employment law, will become a member and Jared Lefevre, an associate. Shayne Rose joined the clerical staff at Eastman & Smith. Ann McCauley, a senior associate, joined Eastman & Smith earlier this
year and helped to facilitate the affiliation.
“Our business plan includes growing the practice in Toledo, capitalizing on the existing talent and people in our offices and bringing in experienced lawyers from smaller firms to gain expertise in those areas,” Tice said.
“It was important to make sure our clients were comfortable with it and they have accepted it. We’ve discovered many capabilities here for our clients,” Carey said.
He reported that bringing 40 to 50 clients with him, mostly industrial and manufacturing companies located in Toledo and smaller towns in Northwest Ohio, which will be served by other lawyers at Eastman & Smith.
“We’ve always known Eastman & Smith was a good firm, not just in size but the quality of the firm and its people,” Carey said.
“We found it to be a two-way street. It’s been healthy for us to bring small practitioners into the firm because they’re good business people by necessity,” Tice said. “They’ve already seen exponential growth in business since they’ve joined us with lawyers in other disciplines.”
Tice said Eastman & Smith represents hundreds of large and small businesses in a 10-county area of Northwest Ohio. The firm recently opened an office in Findlay to serve its growing business in Hancock and Seneca counties.
Eastman & Smith now employs more than 150 people including about 75 attorneys serving individuals and corporate clients.
It also operates offices in Columbus and Novi, Mich.
The firm has experienced steady growth from the mid-1990s to the present, expanding from about 30 lawyers to nearly 80 today.
Tice attributes the firm’s growth to its focus on fostering a positive internal culture, maintaining a diversified client base and practice areas, and ongoing strategic planning.
Tice said that Eastman & Smith was established in Toledo in 1844 and is among the oldest law firms in the state of Ohio.
William Baker came to Toledo to practice law as one of the graduates of the Harvard Law Class of 1844. The City of Toledo was only 7 years old with a population of about 3,000 people and the Lucas County Courthouse was located in Maumee.
Barton Smith joined William and his son Rufus Baker in 1881 and the firm became known as Baker, Smith and Baker. LeRoy Eastman joined the law firm upon William’s death in 1894.
The law practice evolved over 160 years undergoing several name changes, before becoming Eastman & Smith Ltd. in 1996.
The law firm was located in what is now the Huntington Bank Building at the corner of Madison Avenue and Huron Street in Downtown Toledo for 65 years. In 1992, it moved to One SeaGate where it now occupies the 24th and 25th floors.
Eastman & Smith’s lease at One SeaGate expired along with Owens-Illinois’ master lease when O-I moved its headquarters to Perrysburg.
Tice said the firm decided to commit to Downtown and stay at One SeaGate where they expect to be for the next 25 years.
“We’re proud of the history and reputation of the firm to be conscientious in serving citizens and companies in the community,” Tice said.
Today, Eastman & Smith has numerous practice groups that focus on different aspects of law, including business law and commercial litigation, construction, education, environmental, estate planning, trust and probate, health care, immigration, labor and employment, professional liability, public and real estate law.
On the web: visit www.eastmansmith.com and click on links for more information.