Home » Legal Outlook: Growth will continue as optimism spreads

Legal Outlook: Growth will continue as optimism spreads

By The Lane Report

legal outlook1_73386106
Leaders of Kentucky law firms predict steady economic improvement in 2014.

There is less bankruptcy work and more real estate deal activity for Kentucky’s law firms. The heads of those firms expect the 2014 economy to gain strength as optimism in the business community grows, anchored by the state’s two signature industries: Thoroughbred breeding is in recovery, and bourbon distilling is enjoying boom times. Fears about the Accountable Care Act’s impact remain a headwind. Manufacturing investment in Kentucky is ongoing, though. And regulatory and compliance change created by the government continues to bring work to the legal community.

Comments from some of Kentucky’s legal services leaders:

“Indications are the slow but steady economic recovery will continue in 2014. Kentucky’s two of our signature industries – horse racing/breeding and bourbon – are enjoying significant upsurges. While not enough by themselves to lift the entire economy, they reflect growing optimism in many quarters. Also positive, our state is quietly seeing a significant amount of spending on infrastructure, particularly roads, bridges and utilities, that will pay economic dividends due both to construction spending and to improved efficiencies and capacities. Deal flow in real estate is improving, though below pre-recession levels. The biggest cause for uncertainty among small and mid-size businesses remains the anticipated (feared) impact of the Affordable Care Act. The most significant opportunity for an economic boost for the state in the next 12 to 18 months is expanded gaming, which the General Assembly will consider in the current session. The economic impact of construction spending, employment, new state revenues and keeping hundreds of millions of dollars in Kentucky rather than sending them to other states could be enormous.”

Bill Lear, Managing Director
Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC


“Stites & Harbison anticipates a strong 2014 for the firm as we capitalize on the opening of two new offices in 2013. We remain focused on the expansion of our geographic footprint and maintaining our strong position as a service leader in litigation, financial services, intellectual property, healthcare, construction and employment. As we see an industry uptick in regulatory, intellectual property litigation, and merger and acquisition matters, the firm is well positioned with highly skilled attorneys in these areas.”

Kenneth R. Sagan,
Stites & Harbison

“For the coming year, we expect continued steady growth in our commercial and business practice areas. Several of our established manufacturers are expanding operations, while several other business owners have announced plans to build plants in our Bowling Green community. Residential and commercial real estate transactions also continue on an upward trend. Our litigators are busy, and our mediation practice continues to grow. Concern over gridlock in Washington and the impact of the Affordable Care Act are common concerns among our business clients, yet the overall business climate in our area seems warmer. Accordingly, we remain optimistic that 2014 will be a good year for our firm.”

Gaines Penn, Managing Partner
English Lucas Priest & Owsley LLP


“Medium-sized firms such as ours are very optimistic about 2014. We have contained costs, cut overhead and operate on much learner infrastructures. Our firm is focused on client costs, client satisfaction and client responsiveness. Financial regulations, healthcare, taxes, environmental compliance and, yes, even real estate development will continue to generate work in 2014. We are equipped to assist businesses with these changes at both the local and national level. Our Louisville office continues to expand as we service the needs of our client base. We plan on expanding all of our offices as we form more strategic alliances in response to the upcoming changes at all levels of government.”

James H. Frazier III, Managing Member
McBrayer McGinnis Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC


“With economic uncertainty still looming over the business arena, 2014 promises to be a dynamic year for the legal industry. The evolving changes in energy policy and the widespread challenges and delays that have accompanied the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continue to impact all businesses in Kentucky, regardless of size, industry or location. Companies will not only have to manage compliance issues but also examine bottom-line impacts as they build for the future. Understanding and identifying the best avenues to move forward will require a balance of business sense and legal savvy. Attorneys who can successfully help their clients navigate these challenges will undoubtedly find the coming year to be prosperous.”

Chauncey S.R. Curtz, Partner
Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP


“Middleton Reutlinger has enjoyed a solid year of growth in 2013 and expects the same in 2014. Much of that growth is being driven by our regional and national practice groups and our clients who have footprints outside the commonwealth. The Kentucky market continues to lag behind and remains burdened by overreaching governmental intrusion and the growth barriers it creates. While there are signs that the Kentucky market is improving, the pace of progress is slow. Tax modernization and tort reform would certainly aid Kentucky’s attempts to be a more attractive market for commercial growth. Further, our state government must begin to seriously address the state’s underfunded pension system in order to attract new businesses to Kentucky.”

Henry S. Alford, Managing Partner
Middleton Reutlinger


“Fowler Bell is seeing growth within the legal market, as clients from individuals to large corporations seek trusted legal advice at reasonable rates. Clients want value, efficiency, predictability in costs and responsiveness. Firms are hiring highly engaged talent, such as proven laterals, who can bring experience and loyal clients. Where there is change, there is opportunity.”

Taft A. McKinstry, Managing Member
Fowler Bell PLLC


“We experienced an increase in mergers and acquisitions, and real estate transactions during 2013, and the healthcare sector remained strong. These are positive indicators. We are optimistic the local economy will continue to improve during 2014. In an increasingly competitive world, Kentucky faces many challenges, none of which is more critical than improving public education. One of the best signs we have seen in years is Gov. Steve Beshear’s commitment to fund education. Don’t mistake this for a quick fix, but it is a responsible act by government (which we applaud) to address a root cause of our economic troubles.”

Franklin Jelsma, Managing Partner
Wyatt Tarrant & Combs LLP


“DelCotto Law Group with four offices in Central Kentucky represents a wide variety of clients ranging from large corporate litigation and bankruptcy cases to both large and small individual consumer matters. Many are surprised to hear that 2013 had the fewest bankruptcy filings since 2007. The budget issues at local, state and federal government levels present long-term challenges that have critical impact, including in our particular practice areas. Our commercial litigation and financial work-out practices have picked up significantly within the last several months, much of that in the energy and healthcare sectors. Our firm continues to focus on being efficient, results-driven and on staying in close communication with our clients about their strategic decisions and the costs to get there.”

Laura Delcotto, Member
Delcotto Law Group


“Frost Brown Todd is fortunate to represent clients in a variety of industries. The 2013-14 economic climate shows some positive progress, but the future remains unpredictable. Rising healthcare costs and workforce challenges persist generally, but other risks and opportunities depend on the market sector in which our clients reside. They trust us to understand their business goals and to deliver creative and efficient solutions in an increasingly competitive world.”

John Crockett III, Chairman
Frost Brown Todd LLC


“As predicted, 2013 was one of the busiest years to date for DBL Law, which opened a Louisville office and added a white collar crime defense practice group. In 2014, DBL Law sees increasing demand for legal services in the regulatory and enforcement areas: healthcare, tax and banking. Clients will continue to adjust to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. DBL Law is also expecting a significant up-tick in demand for services in real estate and transactional practice groups as the economy, both nationally and in Kentucky, continues to improve. DBL Law anticipates the addition of lawyers and other staff in all three of its offices to meet the increasing demand for its services.”

James A. Dressman III, Managing Partner