Five partners have departed Cozen O’Connor to launch a Chicago office for midsize law firm Carroll McNulty & Kull.

The group joining the 75-attorney firm based in Basking Ridge, N.J., focuses on insurance law. The attorneys are John LaBarbera, Benjamin Blume, Matthew Walsh, Daisy Khambatta and Martha Conlin.

In addition, Carroll McNulty has brought aboard four lawyers from 80-attorney Meckler Bulger Tilson Marick & Pearson to open the Chicago office.

The moves are part of a recent growth spurt at 16-year-old Carroll McNulty, which debuted a Philadelphia office in July with seven lawyers from Christie, Pabarue, Mortensen & Young. Carroll McNulty established a health care practice earlier this month with the addition of two lawyers from Weber, Gallagher, Simpson, Stapleton, Fires & Newby in Newark, N.J. Carroll McNulty has an office in New York, as well.

"It’s not like we woke up one day and said, ‘Let’s grow,’ " said Gary Kull, a name partner at the firm. The opportunities to open the two new offices coincidentally "presented themselves," he said, adding, "I’m never averse to considering new things."

Joseph Ziemianski, chairman of Cozen O’Connor’s global insurance group, said in an email that its global insurance group has made some "strategic initiatives" in the last year. "The departing attorneys are good attorneys, and we wish them well," Ziemianski said. Cozen now has 18 lawyers in its Chicago office, according to the firm’s website.

Gross revenue at Cozen was $311 million last year, up 5.6 percent, according to The American Lawyer, an affiliate of The National Law Journal. Revenue per lawyer was $610,000, up 4.3 percent, and profits per partner were $710,000, up a robust 8.4 percent. The firm’s headcount has remained steady since 2009 at around 510 lawyers, according to the NLJ 350, NLJ’s annual survey of the nation’s largest law firms. In 2009, it grew to 505 lawyers from 478 the year before.

In 2010, LaBarbera, Blume and Khambatta moved their insurance practice to Philadelphia-based Cozen from 210-lawyer Clark Hill, where LaBarbera and Blume were co-chairmen of the insurance and reinsurance group.

LaBarbera said the move to Carroll McNulty would merge legal services for major insurance clients that previously used Cozen and Carroll McNulty separately. Those clients include The RiverStone Group LLC and CNA Financial Corp.

"We started talking quite a while back, and it was really an opportunity to work with friends and to consolidate some business for key clients," LaBarbera said. He said that neither different rate structures between Cozen and Carroll McNulty nor conflicts played a part in the move.

Carroll McNulty’s core practice areas are insurance, reinsurance and insurance defense, including toxic tort, medical malpractice and construction defect litigation. Key clients include Resolute Insurance Co. and Munich Reinsurance America Inc.

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