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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Potter: The wolf is not at the door at Oppenheimer

There is an item on the Findlaw Greedy Associates board implying that the Minneapolis law firm of Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly may be downsizing attorneys and whole practice groups. These rumors crop up about different local firms from time to time on the Internet and elsewhere, and often prove baseless. This particular rumor gained some traction, so we placed a call to the firm's chair, David Potter, to see if there was anything to it.

"Yeah, I heard that too," he said with a laugh, adding the rumor was completely unfounded. The firm has not lost any practice groups or had any major losses of attorneys since its restructuring in 2003, he said. He also said no staff cuts are either now occurring or planned.

In fact, Oppenheimer is on track to have a pretty good year, according to Potter. While mergers and acquisitions and general corporate work are down -- as they are elsewhere -- litigation has really taken off, he said.

"I think we are in a good spot," Potter stated

Potter also told us that Brad Keil will remain as the firm's CEO for the indefinite future. Oppenheimer has a unique management structure -- a CEO who gives up his/her practice to focus exclusively on the firm's internal operations and a chair who maintains a practice while focusing on the external elements of the leadership role. Keil began his current tenure as CEO last August when Tonia Teasley Schulz left the CEO post after less than a year to join the The Emmerich Group, a local consulting company. Keil -- who had been Schulz's predecessor as CEO -- stepped back into the role when Schulz announced she was leaving. It was unclear at the time whether this would be a stop-gap measure or something more permanent. Apparently, it's the latter.

"The management structure has worked well," said Potter.

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