Saiontz & Kirk may merge with Miles

Neither firm talking, not even the `let's talk about it' man

Both firms use TV ads

Legal practices

June 12, 1999|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

Stephen L. Miles and Saiontz & Kirk, two small but highly visible Baltimore-based law firms that use aggressive advertising to lure clients, are rumored to be in merger discussions.

Miles would not comment on the prospect of a combination yesterday. "Nothing has been signed," he said, adding that "if anything happens, it will happen next week."

"As of 4: 30," Miles said yesterday, Saiontz & Kirk has its own law firm, "and I have mine."

Messages left at Saiontz & Kirk were not returned.

A deal would join two small law firms that have won widespread name recognition with huge advertising budgets.

The benefits of consolidation for Stephen L. Miles and Saiontz & Kirk were not clear yesterday. Motivated by the need to control costs and offer a full range of legal services, large firms are merging in an unprecedented wave of consolidation.

Baltimore-based Piper & Marbury LLP, the state's largest law firm, is moving toward a merger with Chicago-based Rudnick & Wolfe. Last year, Weinberg & Green, another Baltimore firm, merged with Philadelphia-based Saul, Ewing, Remick & Saul.

Saiontz & Kirk, with four lawyers, according to the West Legal Directory, has in some years spent more than $1 million on television advertising alone. In a Yellow Pages advertisement, the firm promises to help to victims of brain damage, cerebral palsy, cancer misdiagnoses as well as victims of automobile accidents and job injuries.

"We recover millions of dollars each year for our clients," the advertisement says, offering free consultation. "If you have a phone you have a lawyer."

Working from offices throughout the region staffed by eight lawyers, according to West Legal Directory, Stephen L. Miles carved out a practice in the Baltimore area with ads that featured the lawyer looking businesslike and bespectacled, sometimes strolling through a law library.

"Let's talk about it," is the catch phrase in Miles' advertisements and jingles.

Miles, a former assistant state's attorney, also spent more than $1 million on television advertising in some years, according to legal publications.

His list of specialties includes auto accidents, workers compensation, drunken driving, product liability, medical malpractice, bankruptcy and disability.

Miles, who started advertising heavily about 20 years ago, endured ribbing from prestigious firms who saw pitching legal services as the unseemly work of ambulance chasers and slip-and-fall lawyers.

But almost two years ago, he won the chance to chuckle a bit when Venable, Baetjer & Howard, a large, prestigious Baltimore-based firm, hired an advertising agency for the first time in its 97-year history.

"For years and years, all you hear is the holier-than-thou BS from big law firms," he said at the time.

Pub Date: 6/12/99

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