Free-Falling: Balch Eyed by Competitors; More Defections Coming?

Like vultures, the competitors of Balch & Bingham are eyeing specific practice groups and talent at the embattled firm, ready to scoop up veteran partners and money-makers.

Hiring the best and brightest, competitors may begin to target Balch’s satellite offices in other states and pick up some terrific talent like Richard E. Glaze who left Bach’s Atlanta office in September.

Last week’s major, earth-shattering defection of Balch legacy partner Jesse S. Vogtle, Jr. and three of his money-making colleagues to a law firm based in Nashville, Tennessee, Balch appears to have lost top veterans in their finance and real estate practice areas.

As the ultimate insider who worked at Balch for over three decades, what did Vogtle know that others at Balch don’t?

With the additional exit of Balch’s first-ever Chief Compliance Officer, our sources at Balch tell us that last week morale appears to be at an all time low and that colleagues were in the Birmingham office this past Saturday wallowing in their sorrows by reading and discussing posts from recent days and years past.

The prophetic truth hurts.

Over two years ago, after 20 years at Balch, a top D.C. lobbyist at Balch, William F. Stiers, jumped ship to competitor Maynard Cooper.

While Maynard Cooper has seen their D.C. lobbying income skyrocket in recent years, Balch has seen their fortunes plummet. Even Bradley Arant, another Balch competitor has seen D.C. lobbying income nearly triple between 2015 and 2018.

Here is data about D.C. lobbying from the Center for Responsive Politics:

YearBalch & BinghamBradley ArantMaynard Cooper

The same data shows that in the *first three quarters of 2019, Balch made a mere $210,000 while Bradley pulled in over $750,000 and Maynard grossed a whopping $1.3 million.

For Balch, 2019 may be the worst financial year ever for the firm in lobbying in our nation’s capital.

The loss (or gain) of D.C. lobbying revenues has a two to ten times multiplier effect throughout a firm. If a law firm successfully lobbies for a client and helps the client pass legislation or win a huge government contract, then it is only natural that the law firm’s other departments will get the massive volume of legal work associated with the legislation, regulations, contract or client’s related needs.

The tarnishing of the Balch brand, and Schuyler Allen Baker, Jr. and managing partner M. Stanford Blanton’s failure to clean up Balch’s alleged dirty deeds appear to be killing the firm.

The almost $2 million in lost D.C. lobbying revenue could equal anywhere from $4 million to $20 million in lost attorney fees.

Last week, Balch attempted to put a happy face on the disastrous news about Vogtle’s stunning departure by announcing the hiring of Stephen W. Sill as a new lobbyist who joins Brian Rell, a D.C. insider who started working at Balch on November 1, 2019.

Rell appears to have brought in one client to date. This month, the Jefferson County Commission hired Balch to monitor appropriations legislation.

African-American children were targeted.

We are sure JeffCo commissioners will hear loudly from community members in North Birmingham since the firm allegedly engaged in what some believe is blatant racism: the targeting of poor black children during the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal.

Balch & Bingham has yet to apologize for the unsavory conduct of convicted felon and ex-Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert. North Birmingham is 92.5 percent African-American.

We, the CDLU, will continue to educate the media, legislators, institutional investors, and all potential clients about Balch’s alleged unsavory, racist, and criminal conduct. We started our advocacy with the Newsome Conspiracy Case and will finish once the Newsome Conspiracy Case comes to a close.

As we wrote two years ago:

Balch & Bingham may still think they are winning in their make-believe sandbox, but a secretive Star Chamber, criminal indictments, questionable “contributions,” a mass exodus of money-making partners, and alleged racism seem to show they could be sitting in a fatal mix of hubris and quick sand.

Balch’s leadership team in Birmingham may not believe that more partners or satellite offices will break away, but then again Balch never, ever expected Jesse S. Vogtle, Jr. to say “Au revoir!”

So again we ask, what did Vogtle know that others at Balch don’t?