Three senior construction attorneys have left Gordon, Muir & Foley to bolster the construction contracts and litigation practice at the larger firm of Shipman & Goodwin.

Robert J. O'Brien, who spent his first 33 and a half years in the profession at the Gordon firm said he was approached by Shipman about making the move.

"I was not out there searching," said O'Brien. In considering the offer to join the 150-lawyer firm, O'Brien said he liked the direction Shipman had decided to take with regard to building its existing construction law practice.

"Shipman & Goodwin made a decision that they would like to have a construction law be featured as a stand alone practice at the firm," he said. "And this development will be very complimentary with its existing practices. We looked at this as a really great opportunity."

Also making the move in the lateral hire are attorneys Laurann Asklof and Christine L. Chipman. Both worked together with O'Brien at Gordon, Muir & Foley.

Among the work they did at their former firm was representing the University of Connecticut in several campus expansion projects, including developing contracts used in site acquisition, financing, design and construction.

Tim Hollister, the practice group leader at Shipman & Goodwin, said the new hires will give the firm "an increased significant regional presence in construction law as a stand-alone practice."

Hollister envisions the expanded practice group will work closely with the firm's municipal law and real estate attorneys.

"For many years, Shipman & Goodwin has handled construction law matters for its existing clients in such areas as real estate, land use, school law and health care," Hollister said.

The addition of the senior construction law group will allow the related practice areas to expand. "We are now positioned, in depth and cost structure, to compete for any substantial matter in the industry," Hollister said.

The lateral hires are the second high-profile acquisition for the Shipman firm in recent weeks. Earlier this month, employment law litigator Daniel A. Schwartz left Pullman & Comley, where he had been working as a partner in the labor and employment law practice for six years, to join Shipman.

"Dan is the perfect addition to our existing group of lawyers," said Brian Clemow, chair of the labor and employment practice group at Shipman. "Our clients expect comprehensive litigation support and Dan has a breadth of experience that will enhance our capabilities."

Peter Giuliani, a law firm management consultant based in Weston, said the lateral hires appear to be a continuation of law firms expanding key practice areas when they see an opportunity to do so.