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Philadelphia-based insurance defense firm Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin opened a Cincinnati office Monday with one new lateral hire and the relocation of one of its Cleveland-based shareholders.

The firm has brought aboard Ray C. Freudiger as a shareholder from Dayton, Ohio-based Freund, Freeze & Arnold, where he was a partner.

In addition, Marshall Dennehey shareholder Samuel G. Casolari Jr. has relocated from the firm’s Cleveland office, where he was managing attorney, to serve as the Cincinnati office’s managing attorney.

Shareholder Leslie M. Jenny has taken over as head of the Cleveland office.

Christopher E. Dougherty, chairman of Marshall Dennehey’s board of directors and director of the firm’s professional liability department, said the firm also recently hired an associate to the new office.

The firm now has seven attorneys in Ohio—four in Cleveland and three in Cincinnati—but Dougherty said the hope is to grow the new location to between 15 and 20 attorneys within the next three to five years.

“We’re really committed to this,” Dougherty said, noting the firm’s goal is to have a “legitimate presence” in every geographic locale where it practices.

Dougherty said opening in Cincinnati is part of the firm’s push toward relocating its Ohio presence to more metropolitan areas.

The firm originally opened in Ohio with Steubenville and Akron locations, but the Steubenville office eventually merged into the Akron office, which was then relocated to Cleveland, Dougherty said.

According to Dougherty, both the move to Cleveland and the decision to open in Cincinnati were made in part to facilitate attorney travel throughout the state.

“Our attorneys were traveling all over the state and we thought Cincinnati was a good place to go because now we have the northeast corner and southwest corner covered and at least we can get to the middle from there,” Dougherty said.

But travel convenience was not the only factor that brought Marshall Dennehey to Cincinnati, which Dougherty described as a city “with a lot of vibrancy.”

According to Dougherty, there are nine Fortune 500 companies based in the city, as well as two of the firm’s insurer clients, the Great American Insurance Co. and the Cincinnati Insurance Co.

Dougherty said Liberty Mutual Insurance, another client, also has a strong presence in the city.

Plus, Dougherty said, having an office in the city gives Marshall Dennehey easy access to northern Kentucky, an important market for the firm given Kentucky’s ban on insurers’ use of captive law firms.

Dougherty called the Cincinnati office the firm’s “stepping-off point” for entering Kentucky.

According to Dougherty, the firm brought Casolari in from Cleveland to lead the new office because it felt it was important to have an experienced Marshall Dennehey lawyer at the helm.

“We’ve had success, particularly in Florida, by cross-pollinating some senior attorneys that grew up at Marshall Dennehey,” Dougherty said. “It gives us some consistency in the way we handle our files and service our clients. We think Sam will be a good anchor starting off in Cincinnati.”

Dougherty added that Casolari, whose practice focuses on casualty, retail, restaurant, trucking and products liability defense, also already has a fair amount of work in Cincinnati.

Dougherty said the firm hired Freudiger because he was born and raised in Cincinnati and has a deep familiarity with the market.

Freudiger focuses his practice on personal injury, premises liability, realtors errors and omissions and business litigation defense, as well as education law, having served as chair of Freund Freeze’s school law practice.

Dougherty said the firm now has three of its four core departments—casualty, health care and professional liability—represented in Ohio and is looking toward adding capabilities in the fourth department, workers’ compensation defense.

Marshall Dennehey is not the first Pennsylvania firm to target Ohio as a growth area in recent years.

Last April, Pittsburgh-based Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote opened a Cleveland office with three litigators from Cleveland-based Gallagher Sharp, including the firm’s former products liability practice group chair.

It was the firm’s third Ohio office, after Steubenville and Columbus, the latter of which the firm opened in October 2010 through a merger with three-attorney litigation boutique Golian McCaffrey.

In June 2012, Pittsburgh-based Babst Calland opened an Akron office in the hopes of better serving its clients in a natural gas industry.

The firm moved David E. Northrop, whom it had hired as a shareholder from Columbus-based Porter Wright in May, from its Pittsburgh office to the Akron location. It rounded out the new office with former Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs partners Clay K. Keller and Richard J. Lolli.

In addition to those firms, five of the 100 largest firms in Pennsylvania have Ohio offices.

Philadelphia-based insurance defense firm Swartz Campbell, for example, has a Cleveland location.

In addition, Philadelphia-based Blank Rome has a Cincinnati office, Harrisburg-based McNees Wallace & Nurick has a Columbus office, Philadelphia-based Littler Mendelson has Cleveland and Columbus locations, and Pittsburgh-based Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti has a Steubenville office.

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