A Pittsburgh native long intertwined
with the city's industrial kingpins, Reed Smith joined the crowd in
globalizing via international mergers in the 21st century. With
litigation at the forefront, the firm's practice strengths also
include cross-border transactional and regulatory work.
As is the case with a number of its
BigLaw brethren, Reed Smith LLP's rise to prominence can be at
least partly credited to a symbiotic relationship with an American
industrial tycoon. Attorney James Reed, who founded the firm in
Pittsburgh with fellow 24-year-old Philander Knox in 1877,
cultivated strong ties with the man most singularly responsible for
giving Steel City its blue-collar identity: Andrew Carnegie. In
addition to leading the firm's representation of Carnegie at the
peak of his empire-building, Reed served as a charter director of
Carnegie's U.S. Steel. Other industry titans followed Carnegie's
lead in enlisting the burgeoning outfit, and names such as Mellon,
Heinz and Frick soon graced the firm's client roster.
Edwin W. Smith and other partners joined
the firm in the 1880s, and in 1922, the firm adopted the name Reed
Smith Shaw & McClay. During the New Deal era, Reed Smith
established a securities practice; partner Ralph Demmler went on to
become chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Domestic growth started in the 1970s, as
Reed Smith began making strategic moves beyond Pittsburgh. It set
up shop in Philadelphia and also Washington, DC, and in 1989,
merged with DC firm Pierson, Ball & Dowd, thereby gaining a
well-regarded health care practice. In the 1990s and early 2000's,
Reed Smith turned its attention to New York (combinations with
Parker Duryee and Hall Dickler) and New Jersey and also secured a
combination with leading northern Virginia firm Hazel & Thomas.
In 2003, Reed Smith opened four offices in California through its
combination with Crosby Heafey. Further growth in New York came in
2008 via a combination with Anderson Kill, and that same year saw
the establishment of a Chicago office through a combination with
Sachnoff & Weaver. The firm opened a Houston office in 2013an
outpost in Miami in 2017.
Today, Reed Smith is a global firm,
thanks to an international growth strategy that took off in the
2000s. A tie-up with UK-based Warner Cranston turned Reed Smith
transatlantic. Reed Smith opened offices in Paris and Munich in
2005. A 2007 merger with Richards Butler greatly expanded Reed
Smith's London presence and added offices in Greece, the Middle
East, and, one year later,in Hong Kong. Thanks to the UK mergers,
the firm's London office is by far its largest. A Frankfurt office
joined the ranks in 2016, and expansion in Asia has continued, with
new offices opening in Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore in the last
A Global Customer Center in Pittsburgh,
separate from the Pittsburgh office, houses almost 200 "back
office" staff personnel whose duties span the globe, as well as 100
Staff Attorneys and E-Discovery Attorneys.
While known for its litigation prowess,
Reed Smith is a full-service shop, serving corporate and commercial
clients on litigation, transactional, regulatory and other matters.
It also fields multi-disciplinary industry groups dedicated to
clients in the life sciences, media and entertainment, energy and
natural resources, shipping, and financial services sectors.
According to the firm's internal stats, it represents more than
half of the world's 100 largest companies, including top oil and
gas companies, auto manufacturers, commercial and savings banks and