From simple to the most complex of local and international cases, Utah’s largest law firm, Kirton McConkie, is not only representing clients throughout an impressive variety of industries and practice areas, but helping grow businesses and influencing laws as well.
This is no coincidence. Over the past years, the firm has grown in a strategic and well-thought-out manner, attracting top talent in order to diversify its areas of practice. In fact, over the last decade, it has almost doubled in size.
Originally known for its work for the LDS Church, today’s Kirton is now increasingly also known for its deep expertise across just about all practice areas. Although the LDS Church remains a key part of the business, now a significant majority of its work comes from many of the large and/or growing businesses along the Wasatch front, as well as from national and international clients.
The firm has more than 150 attorneys, practicing in areas such as corporate and business law, intellectual property, real estate, litigation, natural resources and energy, tax and estate planning, international, and labor and employment, to name just a few. The attorneys are highly respected for their experience, integrity and traditional values. They are team-oriented, working not to just solve clients’ problems but to anticipate them using a personalized approach. Often attorneys are so integrated with clients that they are considered part of their inside team.
As the firm grew, so did its need for more space. Today, Kirton has three locations – two in City Creek Center and one in Thanksgiving Point. In July, the firm relocated its office in the World Trade Center to Key Bank Tower. The move provides enhanced efficiencies and amenities for the firm’s clients, attorneys and staff. This new location keeps Kirton McConkie right in the heart of Salt Lake City’s most vibrant area, easily accessible to clients and professionals.
Whether the firm’s attorneys have come up the ranks as an associate or made a lateral move, many have graduated top of their class, from top universities and worked at top law firms around the country – and now have chosen to be a part of Kirton McConkie.
Five shareholders talk about the firm’s amazing growth, diversification, and why being at such a dynamic and modern firm is the perfect fit for them – and their clients.
Corporate Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Litigation Matters
Kirton McConkie offers the best of both worlds, says Adelaide Maudsley.
“It’s interesting how the firm is such a local firm, a local staple, and yet the kind of work we do is regional, national and international,” she says.
For Maudsley, who is now part of the litigation section, focusing on representation of parties in workout, restructuring, receivership, collection and bankruptcy-related matters, as well as corporate clients in general commercial litigation matters was key. The fact that the firm was strategically looking to expand its depth in several practice areas and was recruiting lateral hires was intriguing.
A year-and-a-half aft er making the move, she’s settling in and helping Kirton expand, and is proud that she’s been part of the firm’s strategic growth.
Some of the cases in her current workload include representation of a receiver in a shareholder dispute, a bondholder in the restructuring of some Jordanelle Special Service District bonds, and a lender/equity holder in a mining company involuntary bankruptcy case filed earlier this summer.
“Not very many firms can tout that they have a constitutional practice, an international practice, and that they do real estate work pretty much worldwide,” Maudsley says. “We have the best of all worlds. We’re local but doing all kinds of interesting, amazing work for clients locally, nationally and internationally.”
Cameron N. Hancock
Cameron Hancock has been practicing law for 28 years, spending the past five at Kirton McConkie. He was another lateral hire, specializing in commercial litigation with significant expertise in areas such as antitrust, bankruptcy, real estate transactions, construction disputes, contract disputes, commercial torts, fraud claims, patent, trademark, copyright and false advertising litigation.
Hancock came to Kirton McConkie because he saw the depth of legal talent in all its areas of practice. This depth of experience is in part due to the fact Kirton attorneys, on a daily basis handle legal matters for their client The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that are as complex and large in scope as legal matters handled by national law firms on the East and West coast. This depth of experience has allowed his clients to obtain efficient and cost-effective legal services. Just a few of the clients who have obtained this benefit are Maverik Inc., Big West Oil LLC, Peak Alarm, Performance Automotive, Citywide Home Loans, and BMW Motorcycles of Las Vegas.
Hancock has been involved in the additional growth of the firm as a member of its board of directors and a member of the firm’s three-member management committee and the prior head of the firm’s litigation section.
During his Kirton tenure, he shares that he’s been involved with numerous intriguing cases, with one recent case involving a radio station owned by Maverik and additional clients, where during discovery he discovered the plaintiff had engaged in witness tampering. After the court granted Kirton additional discovery, he also discovered the plaintiff had engaged in spoliation of evidence.
“This is the only case I’ve encountered in my entire practice where based upon a motion to the court for sanctions for witness tampering and spoliation of evidence, the court as a sanction actually dismissed, with prejudice, all of the plaintiff ’s claims in the case and ordered the plaintiff as an additional sanction to pay all of my client’s attorney’s fees and costs,” he says.
Hancock shared that as a trial lawyer it is always satisfying to help his clients resolve their problems in the most efficient manner. “This allows my clients to return to their normal day-to-day business operations and get out of the ligation business.”
R. Gary Winger
Corporate and Business Growth
When Kirton McConkie realized it wanted to become more involved in mergers and acquisitions, the firm reached out to R. Gary Winger for his corporate and business expertise and experience. That was in 2009.
Today, Winger handles merger and acquisition transactions, securities transactions, and serves as outside general counsel for a number of different entities.
“Basically when a client has a problem, they call me and I enlist the firm’s vast resources to find a solution,” he says.
His expertise is drafting contracts, forming entities and negotiating deals. He also handles private placements and loan and other financial transactions. Winger represents banks, investors, businesses and individuals in regulatory and business matters.
Since Winger arrived, the firm has handled transactions ranging from tens of millions of dollars to a few in the half billion dollar range. In fact, Winger led the sale of Bonneville International, when it sold 17 radio stations for half a billion dollars.
“We had 20-plus attorneys working on that transaction. It was the largest radio station deal in the United States in the past several years when it closed and remains one of the largest in recent years.”
That deal helped to further define Kirton McConkie as a business firm, a position that it continues to grow, closing many sales, including recently, a hospital, a bakery, a medical device company, a financial services business, several automobile dealerships, a large convenience store organization, several construction companies, several Internet companies, just to name a few.
“The firm has been growing and focusing on commercial growth, and that has been a key choice.”
Loyal C. Hulme
Real Estate Locally and Globally
It was 2004 when Loyal C. Hulme made the move from a New York-based international law firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP to Kirton McConkie. At the time, there were only about 60 attorneys at the firm. Soon aft er, he was tasked with managing the real estate department of the firm and helping to grow it, both in terms of the numbers of attorneys and clients.
The firm has not only doubled in size, but with the real estate team that has been assembled, he and the team have been instrumental in building the firm with excellent attorneys as well as with a significant number of quality clients.
Hulme has extensive experience with and provides legal counsel on issues related to real estate, land use planning and development, construction, leasing, zoning, and environmental matters such as water and wetland issues. He also has extensive experience working with financial institutions in all aspects of lending, having served as counsel to many borrowers and lenders, including creditors’ rights, and the renegotiation of troubled financing arrangements. The real estate group handles billions of dollars of real estate transactions annually, including some of the largest transactions in the country.
Just a few of the firm’s clients include developers of large shopping centers in the Western U.S., City Creek Center in Salt Lake City; Staker Parsons (Oldcastle) the world’s largest producer of aggregate; large lenders; some of Utah’s largest builders; Extra Space Storage; Maverik; and the LDS Church.
Large projects are ongoing. For example, a current major project includes the development of hundreds of thousands of acres outside of one of the nation’s largest cities, and which will include housing and urban development.
Not only is his team working with clients around the world, but, Hulme says, “If you have a big development in Utah or the Mountain West, Kirton is likely to have a piece of that somehow, whether we represent the seller, the developer or the lender, or one of the partners. It’s rare that you would have a big transaction in Utah – or increasingly in the Western United States – where we don’t have some part of the transaction.”
Elaine C. Young
Immigration and International Tax
When it comes to cross-border work, that’s where Elaine C. Young comes in.
“I help companies get U.S. visas for employees, which is pretty basic business immigration practice, and we have a great immigration group. At Kirton, we do more. As the commercial world gets flatter, Utah companies are hiring employees abroad, and sending Americans on foreign assignments. The range of legal issues is pretty complex, so beyond getting a U.S. or foreign work visa, our team works with clients’ HR, accounting and legal departments to navigate payroll, tax, social security and employment benefits issues she explains. “In the industry, it’s called a global mobility practice.”
Young practiced in New York City at Linklaters for a few years after graduating from New York University School of Law in 2001. She joined Kirton McConkie in 2004, when the firm was searching for an attorney with a background in international tax. Although that is still part of Young’s role today, because of the demand for U.S. immigration work her client base has grown to include a wide variety of commercial clients.
The section itself has grown, as well.
“When I was hired, there were five attorneys doing international work, and now we have five additional shareholders, four more associates and a paralegal.
“Our practice has grown in the sense that it was initially formed to meet the needs of the LDS Church, but the scope of work we now do has grown tremendously, which makes us better lawyers for all our domestic and international clients,” she continues.
Yet, although the firm has grown significantly, Young is quick to point out that is not just growth for growth’s sake.
“We have incredibly high hiring standards,” she says. “It’s difficult to get a job here, and because of our reputation we’re able to be very selective in who we hire. We’re managed well, and we’re growing, but we’re growing intelligently. For the client, that means that if they’re looking for a law firm where attorneys are considered experts in their area, they’re more likely to find that here.”
No doubt, as Kirton McConkie continues to grow exponentially and intelligently, their clients enjoy modern expertise combined with a personalized touch.
“I think that the firm is committed to examining itself and looking at ways where it can change and adapt,” says Hancock. “It looks to increase stability to both find new clients and provide better legal services. At the same time, we operate as a modern firm. If the ways we’ve operated in the past are not the best methods for business, this firm is willing to look at ways to make those changes.”