Dinsmore & Shohl, Cincinnati’s largest law firm, has named Anthony A. Ditka managing partner of its Pittsburgh office.

Ditka is succeeding partner C. James Zeszutek, who took over as managing partner of the Pittsburgh office from Thorp Reed & Armstrong in 2007 and has since guided the office from three to 21 lawyers.

Zeszutek, who joined Dinsmore shortly after the firm’s merger talks with Thorp Reed fizzled out, said he recently turned 62 and decided it was time to step down as managing partner.

“I thought it was time for one of the younger people to get involved,” he said.

Zeszutek, who co-chairs Dinsmore’s class action litigation and pharmaceutical and medical devices practice groups, said he’ll continue his full-time practice.

Ditka, who joined Dinsmore in Pittsburgh from Thorp Reed soon after Zeszutek in 2007 and is a member of the firm’s municipal finance practice, said the practice group has a deep enough bench that he’s been able to transition some of his work to other attorneys in order to take on more administrative responsibilities.

As head of the Pittsburgh office, Ditka, who also happens to be the nephew of former NFL player and coach Mike Ditka, said it will now be up to him to continue Dinsmore’s firmwide philosophy of aggressive but smart expansion.

According to Ditka, the firm as a whole has grown from about 330 lawyers when he joined the firm to nearly 500 lawyers today.

“We want to be able to grow in Pittsburgh the way the firm has grown,” Ditka said.

Zeszutek attributed Dinsmore’s ability to expand over the past five years, while many other firms were shrinking, to the firm’s regional base.

With offices in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Washington, D.C., the firm was able to serve clients in multiple jurisdictions and therefore remain busy, Zeszutek said.

In addition, Zeszutek said most of the attorneys the firm hired in Pittsburgh during his tenure as managing partner brought with them their own books of business.

As more of those types of lawyers began to join the firm, Zeszutek said, Dinsmore became more prominent in Pittsburgh.

Ditka said the firm will continue to be “very bullish” in the Pittsburgh market, but will also be “thoughtful and appropriate” in its growth.

“We’re not going to grow for the sake of growth,” Ditka said.

Both Zeszutek and Ditka said 2012 was a busy year for Dinsmore’s Pittsburgh office.

According to Ditka, while public finance may not necessarily be considered a typical practice for a large firm, it’s been a very active one for Dinsmore in Pennsylvania.

“We focus on corporations, local governments and municipal authorities,” Ditka said. “Those folks right now are seeing historically low interest rates, so it’s not a bad time to borrow.”
But Ditka also attributed his practice’s success to its attorneys’ willingness to go where the clients, and by extension, the deals are.

To that end, according to Ditka, the firm’s recently opened office in the Philadelphia suburbs was hugely helpful.

In January of last year, the firm opened an office in Wayne, Pa., with five lawyers from Pittsburgh-based Burns White’s Philadelphia-area and New Jersey offices, including Richard A. O’Halloran, the former chair of Burns White’s business practices group.

Ditka said having a presence in the Philadelphia region gave his group better access to clients in the eastern part of the state.

“The public finance group has really had a terrific run,” Ditka said.

In addition, Zeszutek said the Pittsburgh office was very busy with litigation in 2012.
Along with his pharmaceutical and medical device defense work, Zeszutek said a large portion of his practice involves representing college coaches in NCAA matters, noting that he was involved in three or four significant investigations in 2012.

In 2012, Dinsmore & Shohl ranked 149th on the Am Law 200, with $171.5 million in gross revenue for the 2011 fiscal year, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year.

The firm also reported $415,000 in revenue per lawyer and $445,000 in profits per equity partner.

Zack Needles can be contacted at 215-557-2493 or zneedles@alm.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZNeedlesTLI.