Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read June 2021 — Troutman Sanders, founded in 1897, employed approximately 650 attorneys before merging with the Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton. Troutman Sanders and Pepper Hamilton merged to officially become Troutman Pepper in July 2020. The firm now has more than 1,200 attorneys across 23 offices. Princeton, NJ Office Managing Partner Michael Mann told Invest: that Troutman Pepper is “not just another large law firm” as he discussed the characteristics that make the firm stand out.
What differentiates Troutman Pepper from other firms in the region?
Prior to the merger, Pepper Hamilton was historically based in the South Jersey-Philadelphia region and many of our attorneys came from smaller firms in the area, so we have an acute understanding of the market and the needs of this business community. We recognize that not all our clients are Fortune 500 companies; while we have a client base consisting of larger companies, we also maintain a strong middle-market portfolio. The diverse expertise of our attorneys allows us to provide more sophistication and breadth in what we can offer clients.
What makes South Jersey an attractive market?
There has been significant growth in the South Jersey market in some of our key areas such as construction, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and private equity. Brick-and-mortar retail has not been hit as hard here compared to other parts of the Northeast. Manufacturing is also strong in the region, and we are seeing an increase in automation. Job growth seems to have maintained momentum and companies have strong hiring trends.
What were some of the challenges you witnessed in the last year?
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the labor shortage in this region, particularly among essential workers who tend to be in the bottom half of the wage spectrum. The pandemic has forced many of us, including our clients, to rethink employment issues such as minimum wage, the advantages and disadvantages of a remote workforce, and commitment to remote work technologies.
What are some of the legislative changes you are keeping an eye on?
The Biden Administration’s proposed infrastructure legislation bodes well for our construction clients. If the resources are used well and the infrastructure is long-lasting, this will be a boost for the country. New pending legislation is set to standardize the infrastructure requirements, which will impact our real estate and some manufacturing clients. The EV infrastructure and incentive legislation passed last year to incentivize the purchase of electric vehicles and increase access to charging stations is increasing the demand for electrification and EVs.
That said, there is an internal struggle within the New Jersey Legislature regarding proposals to further increase spending and taxes within the State without considering any plan to get state expenses under control. Smart proposals such as the “Path to Progress” from Senator Sweeney to get state pensions under control would be an important first step. If taxes and spending is not brought under control, it could ultimately push companies to relocate; several of my clients have taken the opportunity to do so for tax reasons. New Jersey needs to incentivize retaining its businesses, and if taxes are also raised on a federal level, that will further complicate the situation.
How has demand for your services shifted since 2019?
After a brief period of uncertainty at the very beginning of the pandemic, things quickly normalized for many of our practices. M&A continues to be very hot. Private equity has continued to raise money. Healthcare and life sciences have been a tremendous driver for the firm’s activity, although some hospitals and hospital systems have struggled due to non-COVID care restrictions and COVID reimbursement issues.
Shopping malls and other retail is also making a strong comeback now that people are vaccinated. The malls that have survived will do very well, while others have converted to mixed-use and warehouses.
What is your outlook for the firm in the next 18 months?
After the merger in July 2020 our firm nearly doubled in size. But, in addition to the usual integration issues in a combination such as ours, we merged in the middle of a pandemic. As a result, I have yet to meet face-to-face with my new colleagues, but I look forward to doing so in the future. While some may feel uneasy returning to the office, we are making the option available for those who do feel comfortable. Business is strong right now and our client base is growing across different industries, but collaborating with each other and with our clients in person again will allow us to achieve even more. I think the sky’s the limit in terms of what we can accomplish.
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