Business

Heralded for new jobs, Bingham McCutchen's Lexington services center begins winding down

Bob Quick, second from left, president of Commerce Lexington, along with Attorney General Jack Conway, Gov. Steve Beshear and Bingham Bingham McCutchen CEO Jay Zimmerman, cut the ribbon in April 2013 at the grand opening of the Bingham Global Services Center in Coldstream Research Park in Lexington. Photo by Matt Goins
Bob Quick, second from left, president of Commerce Lexington, along with Attorney General Jack Conway, Gov. Steve Beshear and Bingham Bingham McCutchen CEO Jay Zimmerman, cut the ribbon in April 2013 at the grand opening of the Bingham Global Services Center in Coldstream Research Park in Lexington. Photo by Matt Goins Herald-Leader

Law firm Bingham McCutchen arrived in Lexington in 2013 with promises of 250 jobs and an all-star assortment of public officials singing its praises.

But it might be going out with a whimper.

The law firm's 2012 decision to place a services center in Lexington was heralded by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto. The center is at UK's Coldstream Research Campus at Newtown Pike and Citation Boulevard.

When Bingham McCutchen arrived, Gray cited it as an example of the city's rising status, saying the company's decision to move here "represents and reflects the competitive advantage our city has with great people, great educational opportunities and great quality of life."

However, in November, the partners of the Philadelphia law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP approved a deal that admitted 227 partners from Bingham to its practice.

Elliott Frieder, director of public relations for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, said at the time that the deal "is not a merger," and he would not elaborate on what the deal might mean for Bingham McCutchen's shared-services center in Lexington. The center then employed about 200 people in positions that included document services, information technology and marketing.

Contacted multiple times this week, Frieder didn't respond to questions about the Lexington operation.

However, reports have trickled out from employees at the Bingham McCutchen Lexington operation who have been recently laid off, with others receiving notice that they would be laid off at a later date. The target date most often mentioned for closing the Lexington office is next June. No employees contacted by the Herald-Leader would speak on the record.

Despite the celebration that followed the decision to place high-paying jobs in Lexington, the reaction to the company's apparent departure is quiet.

Gray's office said it was maintaining contact with Morgan Lewis but could not comment.

Robert Quick, the top executive at Commerce Lexington, also said he couldn't comment.

George Ward, executive director of the Coldstream Research Campus, wouldn't comment other than to say that the building where Bingham McCutchen is located isn't owned by UK. UK spokesman Jay Blanton similarly would not comment on Bingham McCutchen, saying that its building, at 1500 Aristides Boulevard, is only on UK land and that Bingham leases from a private owner.

The owner, according to Fayette PVA records, is ABFM Realty, which state records show is affiliated with the American Board of Family Medicine, also at Coldstream. Roger Bean, chief operating office at ABFM, couldn't be reached for comment.

State economic incentives approved for Bingham McCutchen were based on 250 new jobs and a $22.6 million investment. The maximum incentive authorized under the agreement was $6.5 million. No incentives have been claimed, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.

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