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VOL. 123 | NO. 178 | Thursday, September 11, 2008

Farris Bobango Branan Looks Ahead

By Rebekah Hearn

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The law firm formerly known as Farris Matthews Branan Bobango Hellen & Dunlap PLC recently shortened its name to Farris Bobango Branan PLC and implemented a new plan of growth.

The firm was founded in the 1950s by Henry Hancock and William Farris, the father of John Farris, a member in the firm. Over the years, the firm has evolved, merging with other firms. Now the 41-member firm Farris Bobango Branan has offices in Downtown, East Memphis and Nashville. The firms’ partners in July shortened its name as part of a rebranding and growth plan.

Finding something that works

The partners of the firm had been discussing the name change since February, and it became finalized in July. The decision to make the change was inspired by two main ideas.

“One is we needed to rebrand the firm, we felt, based on trends that are occurring in the legal profession; a name that was as long as the name that we had was just not very workable,” Farris said.

John Farris

The second reason was to demonstrate the leadership as well as the future direction of the firm, Farris said.

Firm member John Bobango also said the name change was a way of looking toward the firm’s future.

“The firm dates back to the early 1950s, and through that period of time we’ve gone through two, probably three mergers, and had a (long name),” he said. “We also had a couple of attorneys retiring; John Dunlap retired and became of counsel. So we decided that when you look at where we are now and the history of the firm, the firm has changed in a number of ways.”

John Bobango

Another major change Bobango discussed was the addition of different skill sets new attorneys brought with them as Farris Bobango grew throughout the years.

“The firm historically was an insurance defense, zoning and government relations law firm,” Bobango said. “When my business group merged with them in 2001, with about 10 lawyers … we did all the business transactions, tax securities. So the skill sets were different.

“We now represent a number of different clients in different areas – we just felt like it was good to rebrand the name, using a shorter name, and also defining what the law firm is for the years to come.”

Seeking expansion

Farris Bobango Branan is actively seeking new lawyers who bring new skills, Bobango said.

“We are expanding different areas that we have, and we’re wanting to expand and hire more lawyers; we think it’s important to grow as a firm internally and just to get new talent,” he said.

While a number of law firms have started being operated, managed or even headquartered outside of Memphis, Bobango said his firm intends to stay in the Bluff City.

“With any other business, we always consider other opportunities as presented, but we really like the position and the stability that we have with this firm,” he said.

Bobango said the firm’s main goals are to continue to offer its clients “quality and responsive service” while attracting new lawyers.

In July, the same month the firm’s name change was finalized, both Farris and Bobango received significant appointments.

Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed Farris to the Tennessee Board of Regents and Bobango was named president of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Alumni Chapter.

Farris’ father also sat on the Board of Regents – in the same seat the younger Farris now occupies – from 1978 to 1996.

The Board of Regents is comprised of nine members for each of the congressional districts, the governor, several state commissioners and three at-large members: one each from East, Middle and West Tennessee. Farris sits in the West Tennessee at-large seat, which is the same seat his father held.

“I was a strong supporter of Bredesen when he ran for governor in 2002,” Farris said. “When Bredesen came into office, he asked me what I would like to do, and I mentioned to him that I wanted to serve on the Board of Regents. It took a while for this seat to come open, but that’s how it came about.”

For Bobango, leadership in the alumni chapter is nothing new. He had served on the Law School Alumni board for several years prior to taking over as its president July 1.

He also served on the Memphis City Council from 1996 to 2000.

“John and I, and other members of the firm, are active in the community,” Bobango said. “We strongly believe in community involvement and commitment to the community, because … the community’s been awfully good to us. We always look for ways to contribute back to the community as well.”

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