New England And Boston - Law Firms Nixon Peabody's Boston Office: Building A National Platform

Saturday, May 1, 2004 - 01:00

Editor: Mr. Glincher, would you give our readers something of your background and experience?

Glincher:I studied finance and marketing at Boston College as an undergraduate, and I continue to do some teaching at their business school. Accordingly, I take some pride in being a business advisor. At Northeastern Law School I was part of a cooperative program that permitted me to alternate the hands-on experience of working with going to school, which gave me some very fine experience along with the means to pay my tuition. Following a clerkship on the West Coast, I joined a small firm in Boston - 10 lawyers when I started and 20 when I left - because I thought I would be exposed to a variety of practice areas. Most of the firms that were interested in me at that point wanted me for commercial litigation, and I thought it too early in my career to become embedded in one area of the law. This was in 1986, a time when many banks were beginning to fail. The small firm threw me into some 150 debtor bankruptcy cases and a securities fraud trial in Detroit. Despite all of my intentions, I was in the process of becoming a litigator.

Editor:How did you come to Nixon Peabody, or should I say Peabody & Brown?

Glincher: I came to Peabody & Brown as a result of having a friend working there.I did not see myself fitting into a large organization. I am entrepreneurial, and where appropriate, really need to be able to speak my mind. The culture at Peabody & Brown was tailor-made for someone like me. It was a very democratic place, a place where I could voice my opinions, and, at the same time, a place with the very highest professional standards. Peabody & Brown had the kind of reputation and presence to permit me to extend my practice, which involved workouts, taking failed properties over for institutional investors through foreclosure, representing buyers of bad debt portfolios, asset management and so on.

Editor: And your practice today?

Glincher:While my prior litigation and bankruptcy experience has proven useful, especially in problem-solving and dispute resolution, my practice today is essentially a broad-based business and real estate practice. My business practice consists of representing public companies, closely held family businesses and professional service firms. My real estate practice is an offshoot of the corporate practice, with substantial representation of institutional owners, investors and managers of real estate on a national level. The best compliment I have ever received from my clients continues to be when I am described as a "businessman that happens to be an attorney." I am quite often utilized for strategic planning, negotiations and problem solving skills.

Editor: Nixon Peabody was formed in 1999 from the merger of the distinguished Boston firm of Peabody & Brown and the equally celebrated Rochester firm of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle. For starters, can you tell us something about the history of Peabody & Brown?

Glincher: Peabody & Brown dated back to 1854. It had a wonderful culture and work ethic and a very collegial group of people. The firm prided itself on the community and civic activities of its lawyers and, at the same time, on its reputation, both local and across the country, for the quality of its work.

Editor: And Nixon Hargrave?

Glincher:Nixon Hargrave had very similar origins and an exceptional institutional personality as well. I was a member of the Peabody & Brown executive committee during merger discussions between the two firms, and one of the points made to the Peabody & Brown partners was that, in Nixon Hargrave, we had found a firm with the same culture and values. Law firms are not like manufacturing enterprises. The assets of a law firm are its people. Without similar cultures and similar values, two firms will not be able to successfully merge, in my opinion, even if they are complementary in every other way.

In addition, we recognized that Nixon Hargrave would permit us to diversify geographically. We had many clients that were expanding, both nationally and internationally, and were looking for us to be in more places. The merger has permitted us to better respond to those client needs.

Editor: Where have the two firms had their strongest practice areas?

Glincher:Peabody & Brown has always been known for its national syndication practice. This includes a considerable amount of work in the syndication of low income and affordable housing. Litigation and real estate were other very strong areas for the firm. Nixon Hargrave brought an extremely strong corporate practice to the merger, one that had its origins in Rochester. To be sure, Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, Corning, Gannett and many other household name organizations originated in Rochester, and Nixon Hargrave was a part of their history. In addition, Nixon Hargrave had a strong private client practice and considerable resources in public finance and healthcare. The practices of the two firms tended to complement each other. But, Nixon Hargrave did not have a Boston office, and Peabody & Brown did not have an office in New York. These are two of the three most important legal markets in the country.Both firms had a strong presence in Washington, DC and, in addition, we had offices in Providence and Manchester, and Nixon Hargrave had a number of offices throughout New York State.It was clear that the benefits to be derived from the merger - in expanding and diversifying each firm's practice areas and in expanding its geographic reach - were very substantial.

Editor: You have maintained the momentum of your growth with a number of other mergers in recent years.

Glincher:Yes. The firm of Sixbey Friedman Leedom & Ferguson in Northern Virginia enjoyed a very fine reputation in intellectual property and in patents and trademarks. Having them join us has made Nixon Peabody one of the top ten firms in the country in filing patents and trademarks, in addition to enhancing our DC presence.

The merger with Lillick & Charles in California has really served to make us a coast-to-coast firm. It has also given us a permanent presence in California, the missing piece in our strategy to be in each of the three largest legal markets. We are up to 80 terrific attorneys there, and it has created a wonderful platform for us, in California and nationally.

Finally, the merger with Hutchins, Wheeler & Dittmar made us one of the largest firms in Boston. We knew the firm, and we knew the quality of their work. Their practice areas tended to fit very nicely in with ours. I think, in addition, that it is worth noting that Hutchins, Wheeler & Dittmar had its origins in the 19th century, and that all of the firms that now constitute Nixon Peabody share that characteristic. I think is says something about continuity and stability for a law firm to possess such a lineage.

Editor: Are there any plans for additional acquisitions?

Glincher:We are always glad to talk to people who are interested in becoming part of our national platform. We are now a national firm, and we deliver services through a national practice group structure. Combined with a strong culture and value system, that has made the firm very attractive to a number of very talented lawyers and law firms. We find that many of them are looking for a platform from which they can effectively serve their clients. I cannot tell you where or when our next acquisition is going to occur, but I am certain that it is going to happen. In addition, we are interested in enhancing the services we already provide and in adding new ones, if possible.

Editor: The principal constituent elements have longstanding ties to Boston and Rochester. Is there a risk that, in becoming a national firm, Nixon Peabody might lose something of its identification with those cities?

Glincher: I do not think so. Rochester is a strong legal market, and it continues to enjoy a very strong corporate base. That is going to keep Nixon Peabody focused on Rochester, but also on the other major metropolitan markets where we have a strong presence.The breadth of our firm today allows us to effectively expand our national focus. Boston is considered one of the best legal markets in the country, and our office here continues to grow. We have been a part of Boston for a very long time. We are very conscious of our contribution to the life of the city, and I do not see that changing any time soon.

Editor: Does the firm's Boston office have a mission that is separate and distinct from the rest of the firm?

Glincher:No. We are one firm, and we have one mission. Growth opportunities might present themselves first in a particular market, but that does not affect the overall mission of the firm. Our various offices are not franchise operations, and our practice groups function on a national level.

Editor: Would you tell us something about the firm's pro bono and civic and community work in Boston?

Glincher:We have always been involved in public service. Civic and community work is a part of our culture and our value system, and we tend to attract lawyers to our ranks who are committed to similar values. Nixon Peabody lawyers serve on the governing boards of many leading New England charitable organizations, educational institutions, organizations for the arts, and so on. My particular interest is in services for the elderly, and I am involved in both healthcare and housing issues. I should add that the firm has an involvement that extends across a national front.

Editor: Do you find that this type of activity helps you in your recruiting of young attorneys at the law schools?

Glincher: We don't engage in this activity for that reason, but, yes, it is helpful. We find that the values which underlie this kind of activity are very important in attracting young lawyers to our ranks. They are invariably people who already reflect the value system in place here. I think it is also important for firm morale. I certainly receive far more from giving something back than I put into the effort, and it helps me keep things in perspective, both professionally and personally.

Editor: What about the future of the Boston office? At some point you are going to be handing over your managing partner mantle to someone else. Where would you like the office to be at that point?

Glincher:I think there are some substantial opportunities for growth in Boston. There are some excellent lawyers here who are looking to join a national platform, and Nixon Peabody has become a real focus of that interest. At the appropriate time I would like to be in a position to hand over to someone else an office that has grown as a result of these opportunities, but at the same time an office that reflects, in its culture and values and in its professional quality, what I was fortunate to receive when I assumed the managing partner role this past February.

Please email Mr. Glincher at with questions about this interview.