An office in Lexington, Ky., opened in 2003 and in 2005 the firm opened offices in South Carolina at Columbia and Hilton Head Island. In 2006, the firm opened offices in Jackson, Miss., and Greenville, S.C. In late 2006 and early 2007, the firm opened offices in North Carolina at Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham. In late 2007, the firm expanded to Huntsville, Ala.
Last year, Allen, Kopet & Associates acquired the firm of McGarrah & Davenport, Birmingham, Ala. The firm's Spring 2010 newsletter says it plans to open offices in Jacksonville, Fla., and Richmond, Va.
Thomas Heywood, managing partner of the firm of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love, said, "Within the last five to 10 years we've witnessed an increase in interest of regional firms in the West Virginia market.
"At the national level, we saw national firms become international firms," Heywood said. "One layer down you've seen firms with a presence in one or two major cities growing to become regional law firms.
"We do have West Virginia firms like ours doing the same," he said. Bowles Rice now has offices in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.
Spilman Thomas & Battle is another example of a West Virginia firm that has established a regional presence. Spilman now has offices in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.
Heywood said, "We see it as a growth dynamic. We see it with the West Virginia-based firms, and we see it with firms based in surrounding states and in the region, positioning themselves to serve clients and perhaps create a critical mass in efficiency."
The law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl is an example of a large metropolitan law firm that became a regional firm. Based in Cincinnati, Dinsmore & Shohl traces its history to 1908. The firm first ventured beyond the Queen City when it opened an office in neighboring Clermont County in 1979.
In the 1980s, it opened offices in Dayton and Columbus, Ohio. In the late 1990s, it expanded into Louisville and Lexington, Ky. In 2002, offices were established in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Charleston. Two more West Virginia locations - Morgantown and Wheeling - were added in 2007. Last year, the firm opened another office in Kentucky, in the state capital of Frankfort.
Other examples of out-of-state law firms moving into the West Virginia market: Cincinnati-based Frost Brown Todd has nine offices in five states, including an office in Charleston. Nelson Mullins of Columbia, S.C., which was established in 1897, entered the state a few years ago with an office in Huntington. Eckert Seamans, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., now has an office in Charleston.
Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.