Two of the West Coast's largest minority-owned law firms, San Francisco-based McGee Willis & Greene and Arnelle & Hastie, plan to announce today that they intend to merge.
The two black-owned firms have a total of 35 lawyers and offices in Los Angeles, New York and other cities. The announcement of their merger plans comes a few months after both lost several partners, staff members and clients. The combination of the firms, which will be known as Arnelle Hastie McGee Willis & Greene, is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.
"We can now go to clients . . . with a broader level of expertise and more depth with regard to our resources," said managing partner Otis McGee Jr.
McGee and Arnelle are among the few minority-owned law firms that have catered to blue-chip corporate clients. The McGee firm specializes in such areas as business litigation, product liability and labor. Arnelle has focused on litigation well as on banking and real estate issues.
But both firms have recently lost several staff members and clients. In May, Arnelle partner Bill Lofton and five lawyers left the firm to form a new practice specializing in public finance.
At McGee, partner Gary Lafayette and two other lawyers also left in May to form a small litigation firm. The three took with them clients Eastman Kodak and Procter & Gamble, Lafayette said. "We left on good terms," he added.
McGee said the firms' merger, which had been contemplated for several years, was not driven by the recent staff departures.
"The timing just seemed very right," he said.