Laywers lacking imagination: Thompson Hine to move to boringville

The old joke goes: What is the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? One’s a scum sucking bottom feeder, the other is a fish.

Thompson Hine LLP must think we’re stupid- saying they can’t find suitable office space in Downtown Dayton either shows they think we’re morons (with something like 30% reported vacancy rates downtown) or that the real incentives are that they don’t want to pay the City of Dayton 2.25% income tax, having to pay for parking (of course the cost of “free parking” south is built into the premium rent) or that they are doing work (or want to do work) for the power brokers behind the real-estate development at Austin Pike.

From the Dayton Daily News:

The decision to move the 100-employee firm to offices in the Innovation Point section of Austin Landing capped a five-year effort by Thompson Hine to find new digs, but came as a disappointment to city officials and downtown advocates.

Robert Curry, the law firm’s partner in charge, said Thompson Hine opted for the Miami Twp. office building because its layout will allow the firm to consolidate operations onto fewer floors. The new location also will put the firm in closer proximity to its Cincinnati office and provide easier access to parking, Curry said.

Hmm, let’s see, right next door is the former Elder Beerman/Reynolds and Reynolds TAC, sitting with a largely empty first floor, and several empty floors above- which  is now owned by a company that also bought the parking garage directly across the street. Or, we could look at some other innovative options- like the Hauer Music Building which has 4 floors of ultra cool space, parking and is a short walk from the best lunch spots in town. They could have OWNED the building for less than they are going to pay to rent some generic space at Austin Pike. They could also probably pick-up the Patterson Kennedy Elementary School from Dayton Public Schools for pocket change- and have an incredible building to renovate and have all the space they need- plus a basketball court for lunchtime workouts (I watch the Good Wife- and it seems judges and lawyers always shoot hoops together). The location has plenty of parking and space galore. They could even build apartments into the building- so they could host clients from out of town and/or their expert witnesses. Imagine that powerful statement?

The Dayton Career academy is sitting without a purpose behind Requarth- and available- as is tons of space in the Dayton Hydraulic owned building that formerly held Woolpert. Both those buildings are in the area that was to “become BallPark Village” (whatever) and was supposedly on their map.

Thompson Hine has been a tenant in KeyBank Tower, 10 W. Second St., since the office tower was built in 1977, Curry said. Shifts in the legal profession — fewer clerical workers, less library space and fewer reception areas — also meant changes in the type of space law firms need, the attorney said.

“There have been a lot of changes that have made our space somewhat antiquated for our use,” he said.

Curry said timing also was an issue. With some major city office towers going through ownership changes, it made it hard for his firm to reach deals, particularly when it came to issues such as money from landlords for tenant improvements.

“This led to several potential deals falling through, and this eventually steered us to Austin Landing,” Curry said.

Shelley Dickstein, assistant city manager for strategic development, said Dayton offered the law firm $200,000 in development funds to spend on tenant improvements. City officials also tried to move forward talks between Thompson Hine and Bank of America, the current owner of Kettering Tower, Dickstein said.

“We’re just extremely disappointed that (the firm) didn’t take another couple of weeks to try and let the Kettering Tower situation clarify itself before making this announcement,” Dickstein said.

Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, said she was disappointed with the outcome, but having major office towers in distress situations complicated efforts to keep Thompson Hine downtown.

“We were hoping to get this done,” she said.

Curry said Thompson Hine began looking for new space in 2005, two years before its lease on what was then MeadWestvaco Tower was set to expire. In 2008, Thompson Hine signed a letter of intent to move to Ballpark Village, a proposed redevelopment of 40 acres along the Great Miami River near Fifth Third Field into housing, retail, commercial and entertainment venues that never materialized.

via 100-employee law firm to move from downtown to Austin Landing.

While it’s not the job of the city to get involved in real estate deals (although you’d never know it) they’ve built three brand new buildings down in “Tech Town” and offered subsidized rents- which make me wonder why Shelly Dickstein and Sandy Gudorf still have jobs? Where is the imagination to find a space in a city full of it?

It’s time to realize that the heavy investment in Austin Pike by the county, pushed by the Dayton Development Coalition and major real estate barons like Randy Gunlock with RG Properties and Mills Morgan Development are going to continue to decimate downtown until we get a true regional solution to our patchwork of “government” and “economic development.”

The first thing that needs to happen is a single flat income tax across all of Montgomery County that is divided up on a formula based on two factors: headcount and miles of roadway to maintain. Then, we may actually start seeing a more level playing field- and decisions based on real factors instead of the ones we’re getting lied to about.

And by the way- there are lawyers still downtown occupying very cool office space you should move your business to if you do business with Thompson Hine- why should you pay for their high dollar office space overhead in your legal bill? Send a message- call them today and ask if they really did this for the right reasons- it may not be too late to change their minds.


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Dave C.GerardmcohioIce BanditDavid Esrati Recent comment authors
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I’m not mad at Thompson Hine, they have been wanting to move since 2005, so they probably just lost patience … (with Dayton.) They’re only a small firm anyway so it’s not going to hurt Dayton’s downtown economy much, we still have the thieves of CareSource to bring in the funds … Maybe Austin Pike’s income tax is lower, or they are just going for a new venue and clientele … Successful business takes risks! Change is sometimes good …


“Big” law has been struggling with profitability ( ) for a couple of years now.  It is also becoming more competitive.

Thompson Hine, which has about 400 lawyers world wide , obviously thinks they have found some type of advantage either to its revenue stream or its cost line to make this move.  If there isn’t and advantage and the decision was simply made to spite Dayton or on a mere whim then they will most likely feel it in the pocketbook.  If a business is willing to make a decision like that then you do not want them in your town because they are most likely doomed anyways. 


Why is it Thompson Hine’s fault for moving, when they have been trying to find new space since 2005?  Which was well before their lease ran out.  Sounds like they were trying to do the right thing, but weren’t getting much help.  Whether or not the city/county should be in the real estate business, if they wanted to keep TH in the city, they should have worked a little harder during the 6 year window they were given.  But then again, keeping an existing business in town doesn’t have the same appeal as bringing in GE or “redeveloping” the UPS hub.  Why spend 6 years to keep a small firm in town, when they can just give away millions of dollars and bring GE in? 


Then again, maybe they had too much competition here with the Rions law shop, or China Arnold ran out of dough, too.

Just Reality
Just Reality

The reality is that most of Thompson Hines’ clients are probably from the south suburbs and downtown Dayton in its current state is a depressing eyesore.  The reality is that people in the suburbs would prefer to not have to drive to downtown Dayton to do business.  I think they were smart to move to an area that knows how to bring business in, has a business friendly government, and has easy access driving access for future clients.  Springboro is not run by a bunch of incompetent democrat clowns like the City of Dayton is.  If the City of Dayton and the Schuster’s were smart enough to open the Schuster Center in Springboro the luxury apartments would probably be in high demand instead of being another example of wasted resources.

Dave Poliquin
Dave Poliquin

100 jobs in Dayton is $200,000 in income tax revenue, 1000 plus lunch purchases each month, some parking revenue, entice some young educated staff to stay and/or move to Dayton among other benefits to the city. I have no idea of the cause of the move, but it is bad for Dayton.

Dayton Rocks
Dayton Rocks

David, when you start your “article” identifying one of the subjects as “scum” you would think one has nowhere to go but up.  Sadly, that is not the case.  How do you even begin to know what goes on in the negotiations between the City and any resident/business residents?  Generally your opinion is a joke.  In this case, calling for the termination of someone’s employment based purely on conjecture and wishful thinking, you are a keyboard travesty.  Try to keep your opinions to what you know.  What is that again?

Jeff Dziwulski
Jeff Dziwulski

 I have no idea of the cause of the move, but it is bad for Dayton.

If this starts to become a trend it’s very bad, since law firms are one of the last business types to have a substantial concentration in downtown…at least as of 2007, which was the most recent numbers I looked at. 

If they start to leave what’s left of downtown will be in a world of hurt…even more so than it already is. 


The reality is that people in the suburbs would prefer to not have to drive to downtown Dayton to do business. 

…and in the vast majority of cases they don”t have to.  Downtown is utterly, utterly irrelevant to the lives of most folks in this metro area, unless they are a culture vulture or have a court date.  Downtown Dayton = far away and long ago.

David Lauri

Did anyone else see this New York Times article yesterday, “At Well-Paying Law Firms, a Low-Paid Corner,” that mentions Dayton? It’s talking about a trend in which law firms are creating a separate non-partner track of “career associates” who, because they aren’t aiming to make partner, make less money but work fewer hours and presumably have less stress. The article says, “These nonglamorous jobs are going to nonglamorous cities,” and its mention of Dayton is:

Similar centers have cropped up in other economically depressed locations. WilmerHale, a 12-office international firm, has “in-sourced” work to Dayton, Ohio.
“There’s a big, low-cost attorney market there,” said Scott Green, WilmerHale’s executive director. “That means we can offer our services more efficiently, at lower prices.”

But by “Dayton, Ohio,” they don’t mean the City of Dayton but rather Research Park, which is where WilmerHale opened its Dayton office last year:


But by “Dayton, Ohio,” they don’t mean the City of Dayton but rather Research Park

Ask 10 people from outside of Ohio where “Dayton” is. Then ask the same 10 where “Kettering” is. Sadly, given most people’s grasp of geography, many won’t even know where Dayton is, but odds are they’ve heard of it. Most will have never heard of Kettering.

Ask people from others states where King’s Island is. Most will say Cincinnati. Ask people what city the Dallas Cowboys play in. They’ll say Dallas. 

Why nit-pick when an article mentions “Dayton Ohio” ?

Gary Leitzell

You know, the only problem with Davids site here is that what he posts is mostly opinion that is not substantiated with cold hard facts. I have read the opinions of all the posts but none have really grasped the reality of the situation which is making speculation in this town run wild. So here it is, the “rest of the story.” Thompson Hine did NOT want to leave downtown. They wanted to relocate to Kettering Tower. They wanted prime office space. The City offered some funds for building improvements to Kettering Tower that would have assisted with a desirable floor layout and some more modern upgrades for the law firm. This was agreed to some time ago. I remember meeting with them last year to discuss remaining in downtown. So, what happened since that meeting? The Kettering Tower went into receivership and the now owner (a trustee for a bank) has concluded that the building is worth a certain amount of money as is. They want a quick sale. They will not invest a dime in the building to accommodate a first class tenant. Whether Thompson Hine is a tenant or not, the building will only sell for a certain amount. The “owner” who is located in Washington D.C. refused to talk with the City Manager and myself while we were in DC for the DDC Fly-in two weeks ago. That would indicate that they are not willing to discuss the issue and that their mind is made up. The building requires some improvements. The money put up by the City will not do everything required. This means that Thompson Hine can not do what they want in the Kettering Tower because the “owner” is not willing to invest in their own property. In the mean time their old lease came due. The existing building owner of their current space is increasing the rent every few months because they will not commit to a long term lease. The building owner has this right, Thompson Hine has indicated a desire to move. So what do you do? Thompson Hine wants… Read more »

David Lauri

@Hall: You completely missed my point, which was not that the article I highlighted should have said Kettering instead of Dayton but rather that law firms adding jobs in the Dayton area are locating not downtown but, like Thompson Hine, in Dayton’s suburbs.

Alan Scott
Alan Scott

I have read Esrati’s comments on pesky for-profit corporations choosing where to do business without State approval or adherence to the 5 Year Plan. What enemies of the People!

On a side note, I wonder how Esrati’s push to rename Dayton EAST BERLIN is coming along.

Jeff Dziwulski
Jeff Dziwulski

The DDN has little room to talk since they moved their printing plant to Franklin and their newsroom to the city limits, next to Oakwood. 

Mayor L gave us some good background and the picture is not pretty.  As you all can see with the Kettering Tower issue, the ownership of property is passing into outside hands who are trying to sell out , unload the building with minimum investment:

The Kettering Tower went into receivership and the now owner (a trustee for a bank) has concluded that the building is worth a certain amount of money as is. They want a quick sale. They will not invest a dime in the building to accommodate a first class tenant.

…a situation similar to the foreclosed housing stock perhaps?  


I remember when Kettering/Winters Bank Tower was the biggest thing happening in downtown Dayton…with the King Cole restaurant!

Ice Bandit
Ice Bandit

The old joke goes: What is the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? One’s a scum sucking bottom feeder, the other is a fish. (David Esrati)
…you, dear David, are being too kind by rating lawyers too highly. It’s true that two crooks united is called a team, three is a crew and four is a law firm. Recently a cruiseship full of lawyers ran against into an iceberg and sent 1,000 attorneys floating in the Atlantic. A school of blood-thirsty sharks quickly converged on the buoyant barristers, but at the last minute the frenzied finned fish did a U-turn out of professional courtesy. But the problem with lawyer jokes is that lawyers don’t think they’re funny and everybody else fails to realize it’s a joke. And it’s an unassailable fact that a person’s personal and financial happiness is inversely related to the numbers of lawyers in their life. The curse and bane of the universe, this Brut-soaked and Armani-wearing cabal are worthy of all the contempt we can heap on them, for it seems that the more lawyers a society has, the more lawless that society becomes. And the US has more lawyers than anyone else with the possible exception of India. But alas, dear David, they have the same right to get-outta Dodge as any other business. And when they leave this mortal coil, dear David, lawyers don’t take the escalator for a rendezvous with St. Peter like the rest of us, but descend to a dark and warm courtroom where they are confronted by a robed adjudicator with horns and hooves carrying a gavel the size and weight of a sledge. They are represented there by a Legal Aid attorney. And justice is served……..


Hey Ice, can you give me a brilliant vote, I just gave you one, no joking … Lawyers have to make a living, too!


Old Post and new comment.
Law firms are going to steadily move the burbs just like everyone else. It is closer to the homes of their employees for one. Secondly, proximity to a courthouse is no longer a requirement with electronic filing and law libraries that are searchable via the web.
It is not the job of a law firm or any other business to keep downtown propped up. If folks were really interested in growth downtown they would focus on moving fairground west. But that is another political hotbed that our currently city and county leaders do not want to touch. Why not work to make Springfield Street the WPAFB corridor instead of Beavercreek and Fairborn?
Lets not blame a law firm for looking to save a buck and accommodate its workforce.


Dealt with __________ ____________ . One of the most self centered arrogant people I have ever met ..
[editors note- if you can’t sign your full name- you can’t call other people by name- unless they are public figures. I took the name out]

Dave C.
Dave C.

I presume they moved out of Dayton for reasons directly related to their business.

If City of Dayton wants them to come back, they will need to provide even more compelling business reasons.

I don’t see that happening anytime soon.