A group of 10 partners from K&L Gates and Womble Carlyle have left their law firms in order to form a brand new Triangle practice. The new law firm will be known as Morningstar Law Group and will have its headquarters in Morrisville. The law firm has been marketing itself as a full-service business law firm.
“We have litigation, IP (intellectual property), real estate, corporate,” said Mack Paul, a former real estate attorney for K&L Gates. Paul is one of the new firm’s founders. “We can handle almost all aspects for the emerging middle-market and larger businesses in this region.”
The co-founders of Morningstar include former partners from K&L Gates (six) and Womble (four). K&L Gates also lost two associates who joined Morningstar. Kenneth G. Carroll, a co-founder of Morningstar, said that the new law firm will be able to offer better pricing because it is so small. Carroll is the former managing partner for Womble Carlyle’s Research Triange Park office.
“As you might imagine, large law firms have enormous infrastructure,” he said. “To absorb those kinds of expenses, you have higher billing rates.”
A consultant from High Point, Tom Kane, said that being able to offer lower prices is an excellent marketing pitch for the firm.
“In today’s climate, saying you came from a large law firm like K&L Gates or Womble Carlyle, and saying your rates are going to be more reasonable, … it makes sense,” Kane said.
K&L Gates employs close to 2,000 lawyers and operates internationally while Womble Carlyle employs over 550 lawyers across 14 offices. The managing partner for the Womble Carlyle Raleigh office, Johnny Loper, said nothing but excellent things about his former partners.
“The four people who left our firm are all superb lawyers, and they are even better human beings,” Loper said. “We parted on nothing but wonderful terms.”
The remaining founders of Morningstar include former K&L Gates partners Jason L. Barron, William J. Brian Jr., Patrick L. Byker, Grayson S. Hale and Stephanie C. Powell; and former Womble partners Jennifer L. Collins, Gene Jones and W.H. “Kip” Johnson III.
Carroll said that the group did not want to string together the last names of the lead partners in the firm, which is why they decided on a single name. The firm chose Morningstar because it symbolizes the “dawn of a new day in legal services,” he said. “I hope that’s not hokey sounding, but that is what we were trying to accomplish.” Kane said that he was proud of the group of lawyers that founded the firm because they did not care about their names being in the law firm’s name.
“It sounds like a pretty congenial group,” he said.
“We are trying to put in place certain practices that will foster greater collaboration and sharing and collegiality,” Paul said. “Those kind of things are harder to do in a 2,000-lawyer firm.”