Local Law Office Gains Independence

June 17, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The local law office of Rader, Fishman, Grauer & McGarry will soon become a new firm. McGarry Bair LLP is set to emerge this month, and could surface any day now.

Rader, Fishman & Grauer PLLC announced last week that it agreed to separate its Grand Rapids office from the firm, which specializes in intellectual property law. Rader, Fishman & Grauer has offices in Washington D.C., Denver, Salt Lake City, Bloomfield Hills and Grand Rapids. But soon the local office will be spun into an independent law firm headed by John McGarry and Joel Bair.

McGarry told the Business Journal that the decision to split was mutual and made good business sense because conflicts of interests involving clients often popped up between the local office and the one in Bloomfield Hills. He said another barrier to business was that the nature of the intellectual property practice prohibits a firm from representing companies that compete with a current client. With two offices in Michigan, the ability for each to add new clients was essentially halved.

“Because our business is to protect somebody’s intellectual property, that means you want exclusivity. Even if a competitor is a friendly one, it’s very difficult to resolve conflicts of interest because you can’t be aggressive on behalf of one client against another client,” said McGarry, who is managing partner of the local office.

The local office lists first-tier and second-tier automotive suppliers and office furniture manufacturers among its key clientele. And because the office’s clients are getting larger and doing business over a wider geographic area, McGarry said their clients are naturally facing more competitors. Even though most of the office’s clients are based in West Michigan, the attorneys represent clients worldwide.

At the same time, the Bloomfield Hills office also has grown and also does business on a global basis. With both growing and going global, opportunities for both were limited when the two offices bumped into each other.

“A lot of conflicts have developed over the years between Grand Rapids and Bloomfield Hills. So we just felt that there was too much potential for problems,” said McGarry. “We’ve always been fairly independent here anyway, so we mutually thought that it would be very good to make the break at this point.”

Rader, Fishman & Grauer also called the parting a friendly separation. R. Terrence Rader, a managing partner in Bloomfield Hills, said the severance was done in a diligent and thoughtful manner.

“The attorneys in Grand Rapids represent a unique collection of talents who will have far more freedom to serve the interests of western Michigan without the encumbrance of the conflict issues caused by the representation of industry competitors,” said Rader.

McGarry Bair will continue to focus on intellectual property law, providing consultation and litigation for such matters as patents, trademarks, copyrights, computer and Internet law, trade secrets, and unfair competition, among other issues of that type.

“We will continue to do the same thing that we’ve done for many years,” said McGarry, who added that the association with Rader, Fishman & Grauer was a good one.

“I think there were some very good synergies between the two organizations. We have sent a lot of work to Bloomfield and the other offices. In turn, we’ve done some work for them, as well.”

The Grand Rapids office of Rader, Fishman & Grauer opened in 1997. When it becomes McGarry Bair, the firm will retain its eight attorneys and a support staff of eight, and will remain in its downtown location at 171 Monroe NW. McGarry said the actual date for the official separation hadn’t been set as of last week.

“No, it has not. We just decided this last week. We thought the best thing to do would be to separate as soon as possible,” he said. “What we’re doing in the meantime is trying to get our systems up and running, so when we make the switch all they have to do is cut the tie-line between here and Bloomfield, and we’re on our own and become McGarry Bair.”  

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