Law firm moves: Whiteford expands downtown, Woods Rogers completes post-merger rebrand

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Whiteford, Taylor & Preston’s logo greets visitors on its new 20th floor space in Two James Center. (BizSense file photo)

A Baltimore-based law firm is adding some extra square footage for its growing Richmond office.

Whiteford Taylor & Preston, which already occupies the entire 17th floor at Two James Center downtown, recently took over part of the building’s 20th floor.

The move is aimed at adding offices for attorneys by relocating its lower level conference rooms three floors up.

Upon signing the lease, the firm promptly renovated the 20th floor space into multiple conference rooms and a lounge area with a panoramic river view.

With that work complete, renovations are now underway on 17, which will grow from 25 offices to 34.

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The new lounge and kitchen area at Whiteford’s Richmond office.

Vern Inge, a veteran local lawyer who has led Whiteford’s Richmond office since it opened in 2018, said the firm was nearing capacity in its existing setup and needed more room to continue its plan to grow its local headcount.

“We have 24 lawyers in Richmond and only 25 offices, so we needed the space,” Inge said.

The new space also will help the firm make the most of the continued transition away from pandemic-era hybrid work and more into being in the office full time. He said he’s noticing the trend for more and more firms.


Vern Inge

“We’re pretty close to 100% in the office,” Inge said. “Our people like being here. We like being in the building together.”

Whiteford launched in Richmond with three attorneys and has grown steadily over the last five years. Inge said that pace will continue.

“We’re continuing to look at good opportunities and grow slowly as we have been,” he said.

Inge said the Richmond office has found its stride in handling legal work for mid-sized businesses, including litigation, tax, bankruptcy and transactional matters.

Whiteford also has continued to grow firmwide beyond Richmond.

It’s now to about 200 lawyers across 16 offices in Virginia, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Inge said its home base in Baltimore remains its largest office.

Woods Rogers is Woods Rogers again

CMYK Woods Rogers Horizontal Primary Logo

Woods Rogers’ revamped logo

Another out-of-town law firm with a growing Richmond presence has recently rebranded after a sizable merger.

Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black has gone back to being known as simply Woods Rogers.

The name change follows the 2022 merger of Roanoke-based Woods Rogers and Norfolk-based Vandeventer Black. Their marriage created the fifth largest law firm in the state and included an office in Richmond.

Firm President Dan Summerlin, who is based in Roanoke, said it took until now to decide what to do with the combined name, which he said admittedly didn’t roll off the tongue.

Dan Summerlin

Dan Summerlin

“When we merged, I think we all knew Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black is a mouthful and from a marketing perspective was unlikely to be the long-term name,” Summerlin said. “We all agreed we can live with the mouthful for a while and give us some time to be purposeful about it and think about who we are and where we’re going.”

The firm eventually hired consultants and did a survey and went through various name iterations.

“We considered just about every combination of WRVB. One of the problems we were hearing in WRVB, people indicated it sounded a lot like ‘WKRP in Cincinnati,’” he said, jokingly referring to the old TV show.

“Ultimately their recommendation was Woods Rogers made the most sense for a lot of reasons.”

The firm officially rebranded in mid-May and Summerlin admits that while reverting back to Woods Rogers isn’t huge news on the surface, it has a deeper meaning for the firm.

“People say, ‘in 2021 you were Woods Rogers and now in 2024 you’re Woods Rogers.’ I keep telling people we are not the same Woods Rogers we were. We want to make a break from what the traditional Woods Rogers was before.”

The firm has 135 lawyers statewide in offices in Richmond, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Charlottesville and Roanoke.

Roanoke remains the firm’s biggest office, followed by Norfolk and Richmond. Summerlin said Northern Virginia is an area of potential expansion for the firm and that, like Whiteford Taylor, demand from mid-sized business clients is keeping the firm fed.

Its Richmond office has grown from 18 attorneys in 2022 to 22 this year. The firm is still in the process of combining the offices of the two predecessor firms, which happened to be in the same building and one floor apart in the west tower at Riverfront Plaza downtown. In the coming months it will consolidate onto the 16th floor.

Summerlin said Richmond will continue to be an area of growth for Woods Rogers.

“Richmond is a focus of the firm in terms of where we see opportunities to add talent. It’s a little more fluid market for attorneys than Tidewater and others,” he said.


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