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By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
    Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard P.C. will spend the next year integrating a number of new staff members and legal specialties after a very busy 2018.
    “Through lateral acquisitions, group acquisitions and organic growth, we onboarded about 118 employees to Sandberg Phoenix last year,” Managing Partner p13 Bhavik PatelBhavik PatelBhavik Patel said. “Staffing is around 315 employees now. We’re not really chasing a number. We’re just trying to make smart, creative moves to better serve our clients.”
    The St. Louis-based firm, which has extensive operations in Metro East, broadened its reach substantially in Kansas City, Mo.
    “We’ve been in Kansas City, but we kind of solidified our footprint,” Patel said. “It is part of a growth strategy. We brought on a couple of groups and additional lateral hires from other firms and now we have a pretty good footprint there with over 20 lawyers.”
    The firm’s presence was bolstered by new space in The Country Club Plaza neighborhood, where the firm took over an entire floor.
    “We really built out a facility that reflects the kind of firm we are and the type of clients we want to represent,” he said.
    The firm added experts in banking, debtor/creditor work and real estate. “And a couple of really good litigators with good trial experience,” Patel said. “It’s a one-stop shop to mirror what we have put in place in St. Louis.”
    In St. Louis, the firm spent much of the year incorporating the resources it received through acquisition of Polster, Lieder, Woodruff & Lucchesi, an intellectual property law firm that filled a need at Sandberg Phoenix.
    “At one time we were the largest law firm in the state of Missouri that did not have an intellectual property division,” Patel said. “In order to be that one-stop shop for clients, we needed to become better rounded in areas where our clients had needs. We have very large national clients as well as entrepreneurs and inventors that really do need to utilize the IP service.”
    St. Louis’ startup scene is one of the “greatest in the country,” Patel pointed out.
    The Polster move added around 20 staff, including 12 lawyers, to Sandberg Phoenix.
    The firm also hired 20 attorneys and support team from the former Herzog Crebs LLC, which had a large mass tort practice and a large corporate and tax department.
    “We had a large mass tort practice as well, especially as it pertains to Madison St. Clair County, and we really wanted to add more depth to that, create greater efficiencies and ultimately be a powerhouse in the area of mass torts defense in the area,” Patel said.
    Sandberg Phoenix, which turns 40 years old in 2019, may not be done growing. Patel said the firm has identified certain areas to further pursue to better serve the St. Louis, Illinois and Kansas City markets.