A few law firms in Omaha have reached the century mark, but only one can trace its origins to 150 years ago: Baird Holm. The firm is deeply intertwined with the city and state itself, playing a role in numerous milestone events including the Trans-Mississippi and International Exhibition hosted in Omaha in 1898 and the 1920 revision of the original 1867 Nebraska Constitution.
“Literally, we’re part of the history of the community,” Managing Partner Chris Hedican said.
Baird Holm’s own history begins with three law firms founded in 1873, 1878 and 1888. The 1970 incarnations of these firms merged to become today’s Baird Holm. The firm now has 97 attorneys licensed in 22 states, and it’s seen steady growth over a century and a half.
Although the fundamentals of the practice of law have remained the same, Baird Holm looks very different in 2023 than its originators’ firms looked in the late 19th century. Hedican has personally seen significant changes during his career, from computers replacing typewriters to the digitization of copious amounts of information.
In the late 1800s, the legal sector was dominated by Caucasian men, so another visible difference between then and now is the diverse makeup of the team, especially their female attorneys. “We are proud to have the highest percentage of female attorneys and partners among similar sized firms in the region and elsewhere; in fact, more than 1/3 of our attorneys are female. The firm is a founding member of the nonprofit Nebraska Legal Diversity Council and recently received the Midsize Mansfield Certified Plus recognition.”
“I think the most significant development in the legal industry was that kinds of arcane views of who could be a lawyer have changed,” Hedican said.
Baird Holm’s work also represents clients of diverse backgrounds and communities, including public and private companies, individuals, private funds and other investors, financial institutions, governmental entities and nonprofit organizations.
The firm has also evolved with the times in other important ways, he added.
“As a firm, we’ve been very good about anticipating and responding to developments within the marketplace in terms of the needs for legal services. We’ve developed new practice areas, regularly, that didn’t exist at one point in history, either in Omaha or anywhere. That’s been a big part of our ability to endure,” Hedican said. “For example, 20 years ago you didn’t have renewable energy practice. Now we have the best one around. Twenty-five years ago, we had one employment attorney and now we have the largest employment practice in the area. We have a fair housing practice that didn’t exist before, we have a tax increment financing department that didn’t exist before.” “Lawyers in our firm helped found the American Health Care Association.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Baird Holm provided guidance to many companies and health care institutions, Hedican said.
“We advised businesses and employers on various compliance issues, employee health and remote work, navigating PPP loans, amongst other issues, on a daily basis,” he said. “I’m proud that we were really an important resource for helping our clients through that difficult period of time.”
The firm has longstanding recognition in the legal sector. Baird Holm attorneys have been listed in Best Lawyers in America and as Super Lawyers, and have received the Peer Review Ratings AV certification mark by Martindale-Hubbell. The firm itself is the only one in Nebraska listed in the highest tier in the five main categories used by Chambers USA. Baird Holm attorneys have held many leadership positions in industry associations including Nebraska State Bar Association, Omaha Bar Association, the local Barristers Club, Nebraska State Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Legal Ethics, Nebraska office of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, and American Academy of Hospital Attorneys (now the American Health Lawyers Association).
The firm is also known for its involvement in the community, Hedican said, and recently introduced BH Community Works to provide additional opportunities for attorneys and staff to donate their time, expertise and financial support to area organizations.
“Our firm has always been very involved in community and philanthropic organizations. We encourage our attorneys to be on boards and we support those organizations financially,” he said. “BH Community Works is really just more of a formalization of (activities) that we’ve done before. But we’re driving it more proactively… It’s more thoughtful.”
“Baird Holm has attracted not only law school graduates into the firm, but also experienced attorneys formally associated with other firms or companies,” Hedican said.
“By my estimation, probably somewhere around a third of our firm has lateral origins,” he explained. “We’ve been very proactive and responsive to developing legal practices, as the economy in the world has changed, and we’ve created a culture that attracts some of the very best lateral attorneys and then we integrate them well within the firm. And then I also think we’re just a really, really good place to work.”
Baird Holm LLP
1700 Farnam Street, Ste. 1500
Omaha, NE 68102-2068