Atlanta-based Smith, Gambrell & Russell merges with Chicago law firm

Atlanta-based Smith, Gambrell & Russell announced it is merging with Chicago-based law firm Freeborn & Peters.

The combined firm will operate under the name Smith Gambrell Russell starting March 1. It will have nearly 400 attorneys in 14 offices with more than $260 million in annual revenue.

Those numbers would have put the combined firm at No. 132 of American Lawyer’s ranking of the top 200 American law firms for last year, up from Smith, Gambrell & Russell’s 178th place. The combined SGR’s largest offices will be Atlanta with approximately 140 lawyers, Chicago with roughly 110 lawyers and New York with some 60 lawyers.

Stephen M. Forte, SGR’s managing partner and chair of the executive committee, said in a written statement that discussions about a possible merger began last August, with the view that “a combination could accelerate our growth in a way that single and small group lateral hires could not.” Forte will continue to be managing partner and chair of the executive committee of the combined firm.

Freeborn executive committee chair Joseph T. McCullough IV said in a written statement that the deal would allow the company to expand to key markets and “significantly grow in the highly competitive New York market.” McCullough, who will be a member of the combined firm’s executive committee, also said SGR’s offices in England and Germany would help to serve clients Freeborn has in London and Germany.

It’s SGR’s second combination with a Chicago firm in two years. In 2022, SGR combined with Chicago-based litigation boutique law firm Figliulo & Silverman P.C.

James Figliulo will be co-managing partner of the combined Chicago office with William E. Russell from Freeborn.