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Let the Moves Begin: Wolf Block Lawyers LateralIn the midst of the toughest job market in anyone's memory, numerous law firms seem to be eyeing attorneys from the dissolving Wolf Block. Deals are already being struck, with the president of Cozen O'Connor saying on Thursday that his firm, a former potential merger partner of Wolf Block's, had signed up several groups, including real estate, trusts and estates and tax attorneys. Stradley Ronon, Drinker Biddle, and Littler Mendelson have also picked up attorneys from Wolf Block recently.
The Legal Intelligencer2009-03-27 12:00:00 AM
Wolf Block's vote Monday to dissolve means nearly 300 attorneys will be put out on the street when the firm closes its doors into the toughest market in anyone's memory.
But with nearly every firm in town said to be eyeing some of the attorneys, deals are already being struck.
Sources have said since last weekend that upward of 100 Wolf Block attorneys could join Cozen O'Connor, a former potential merger partner of Wolf Block's. So far, only real estate partner and executive committee member Robert Silverman made the move, joining Cozen O'Connor Wednesday.
But late Thursday, Cozen O'Connor President Thomas A. "Tad" Decker said the firm signed deals with several other groups, including real estate, trusts and estates and tax attorneys.
Eleven attorneys from Wolf Block's private client group will join April 6.
The group includes Wolf Block's private client services group Chairman Robert I. Friedman, Vice Chairman Steven Winters and partners Lester Lipschutz, Edward Glickman, David R. Glyn and Leonard Cooper. Aside from the four associates who will also make the move, the group includes Matthew Kamens, who is listed on Wolf Block's Web site as of counsel in the firm's private client services group. Kamens had previously held leadership positions in Wolf Block, and Decker described him now as a consultant or adviser to that firm.
Also making the move to Cozen O'Connor will be 14 real estate attorneys in addition to Silverman. That group includes the practice's chairman, Herman Fala, Wolf Block Vice Chairman Bernard Lee and partners Henry Miller, Jim Williams, Diana Liu and Thomas Witt. The remaining attorneys are associates with Wolf Block. They are all set to join within a week to 10 days, Decker said.
Tom Gallagher, chairman of Wolf Block's tax practice, will make the move to Cozen O'Connor around the same time as the other groups. Decker said Gallagher would probably bring at least two other attorneys with him.
Barry Klayman, the one partner from Wolf Block's Wilmington, Del., office who didn't move to Drinker Biddle & Reath, will also join Cozen O'Connor.
Cozen O'Connor hasn't been the only firm to grab Wolf Block lawyers already:
• Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young picked up two finance partners from Wolf Block. Richard Zucker, chairman of Wolf Block's financial services practice and head of its commercial lending group, joined Stradley Ronon's finance and restructuring practice group and Gretchen M. Santamour, chairwoman of Wolf Block's bankruptcy and creditor's rights practice, joined the firm's bankruptcy group.
Zucker and Santamour joined Wolf Block from Lesser & Kaplan about 13 years ago and have practiced together for more than 20 years.
• Drinker Biddle confirmed Wednesday that it had brought on 10 Wolf Block attorneys to its Wilmington, Del., office, adding real estate, white-collar defense and litigation components to the bankruptcy-heavy office. Talks between the two sides began well before Wolf Block was seriously considering dissolving. The Legal Intelligencer first reported a week ago that the group had been working on a deal to move to Drinker Biddle.
The firm said Thursday that Kathleen M. Jennings, William J. Rhodunda, Todd C. Schiltz, Joseph C. Schoell and Shawn P. Tucker joined as partners and Charles M. Oberly joined as of counsel. Jennifer B. Ranji, Chandra J. Rudloff, Karen V. Sullivan and Daniel Turner Jr. joined as associates. Turner spent most of his time in Wolf Block's Philadelphia office.
Tucker will take over as managing partner of the Wilmington office from bankruptcy attorney Andrew C. Kassner, who has enough managerial duties on his plate as executive partner of the firm. Kassner said the firm has been looking for a long time to expand the six-year-old office beyond bankruptcy matters and this group brought all the right components.
Tucker said he realized during Wolf Block's merger discussions with Akerman Senterfitt that the firm might no longer be the place for him. He had joined Wolf Block in 2005 with Tom McGonigle, whom he credits with growing the office. McGonigle left in January to serve as chief of staff to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell.
Tucker said the merger deal would have placed certain financial restrictions on some of the younger partners that he didn't like, and it was around September when the deal broke up that he started looking around and started receiving a lot of inquiries as well. Drinker Biddle's national and diversified platform made the most sense for his clients, which consist of developers, home builders and other businesses, such as dealerships.
Tucker said the Delaware office was profitable and pretty much generated all of its own clients so they will all be following them over to Drinker Biddle.
• Warren Fusfeld, head of Wolf Block's employee benefits practice, and employment partner Melissa Kurtzman left the firm March 20 to join Littler Mendelson's Philadelphia office.