A few years back, the Richmond law firm now known as Durrette, Irvin & Bradshaw, P.L.C., expanded northward to Fredericksburg.
The firm was one of several Richmond firms that established offices in that city on the edge of Northern Virginia.
But now Durrette, Irvin is blazing a trail in a totally different directionsouth and west, even just across the border in the state of Tennessee.
The firm just added two new officesone in Abingdon by a merger with the firm of Jessee & Read, and the other into Bristol, Tenn., by adding solo practitioner Fred Leonard.
According to Wyatt B. Durrette Jr., the firm’s president, there were a couple of main reasons for the expansion.
“We had been getting more and more referrals from those firms,” he said. “As a relationship formed, we thought, ‘Why not get together?’
“Another reason is that there are good opportunities in those particular areas,” he said. “We had a good experience in Fredericksburg when we opened that office several years ago, and [because of the expansion] we [will] have a greater opportunity to develop our practice areas.”
Durrette also said there is a need for sophisticated legal services in these markets that small firms or solo practioners sometimes can’t fill by themselves.
“In smaller communities there is often a need for attorneys to seek larger firms for resources,” he said. “There is a better opportunity out there because if you’re one of a couple firms out there that have resources, and you’re local, you have a better [chance] of getting the work. It’s better than if your main office is [miles] away.”
These were among the reasons Jessee & Read and Leonard joined the new firm, Durrette said.
“Jessee & Read have a very good general business and estate practice in the Abingdon area,” he said. “They are well-known lawyers in the area, and over the years they had the opportunity to do work that was beyond what a four-person firm could devote to an area.”
Leonard was in a similar situation, and had referred some cases to Durrette, Irvin.
“He was the go-to guy for Chapter 11 in eastern Tennessee,” Durrette said. “In talking, we found that he was referring a lot of business out. It was a natural fit.”
The two new offices will help to expand the practice areas of the original firm. Durrette, Irvin had concentrations in several areas: a general business practice serving small businesses, estate planning, general commercial litigation with a developing complex litigation and class actions practice and a substantial insurance defense practice that focuses more on first-party coverage issues, Durrette said.
Currently, the new firm doesn’t plan to move any lawyers to its new offices, although one attorney based in Richmond is also licensed to practice in Tennessee, and may go to that office more often as the business develops there.
More expansion may be in the works for the new firm as more locations for offices are under serious consideration, Durrette said.
“This is rather exciting,” he said. “Many firms tend to expand in metropolitan areas, but we have decided there is tremendous opportunity in these areas.”