While chunks of Wolf Block attorneys have already found new homes in the wake of the firm’s dissolution, some big names still remained behind, leaving some in the community to wonder where they might be headed.
One of those questions was answered with word late Thursday that Wolf Block Chairman Mark Alderman would join Cozen O’Connor. He joins 65 other Wolf Block attorneys who have already announced they would join the firm that was once in merger talks with Wolf Block.
The majority of those attorneys were in the real estate, trusts and estates and tax practices along with some corporate attorneys and litigators. Cozen O’Connor also picked up the bulk of Wolf Block’s New York office.
Alderman joins Cozen O’Connor Friday and will work in the firm’s government relations practice. Cozen O’Connor President Thomas A. “Tad” Decker said Alderman would focus on federal public strategies, deepening that piece of the practice. He will be based in Philadelphia but spend a lot of time in the firm’s Washington, D.C., and New York offices. Alderman had served as chairman of Wolf Block since 1997 and had previously led two of the firm’s wholly owned subsidiaries, Wolf Block Government Relations and Wolf Block Public Strategies. He was an early supporter of President Obama’s campaign and spent time on the president’s transition team in Washington.
“I look forward to turning my attention from administrative management to full time government relations, which is my true passion,” Alderman said in a statement. “I spoke to a number of firms after the vote to dissolve Wolf Block, but I have always been impressed by Cozen’s entrepreneurial spirit and its aggressive growth rate for such a young firm.”
Decker said there are about 13 or 14 attorneys, including himself, who spend at least part of their time handling government relations work. He said the firm was really excited to bring Alderman on board to add to the depth of the practice.
“He had a lot of choices and it took him a while to sort things out, but at the end of the day we were able to talk him into coming here,” Decker said.
Word that Alderman and other Wolf Block attorneys had a deal in place to move to Cozen O’Connor came out in the hours before Wolf Block partners voted to dissolve the firm March 23. It was said that upward of 100 Wolf Block lawyers would make the move, including real estate and trusts and estates attorneys along with the New York office.
Certain attorneys who were not part of any discussions to join Cozen O’Connor have said they were angered by the prospect that people who were voting to dissolve the firm had other options in place. Many in the legal community have described such a deal as the merger the two firms were not able to get done back in 2007.
Both Alderman and Decker have adamantly denied that any deal was in place and said the suggestion that this would be akin to a merger is “ridiculous.”
“It is absolutely untrue that we had any arrangement with a group of lawyers at Wolf Block prior to this dissolution vote,” Decker said last month.
He had said there were no oral or written agreements, and the firm was not having specific conversations offering anyone opportunities at the firm before the dissolution vote. Decker said Cozen O’Connor did that very intentionally as to not in any way be the cause of the collapse of Wolf Block.
When asked why word of a potential deal was on the street before the 1 p.m. vote, Alderman said last month that is a question that would have to be asked of those involved in creating any such deal.
“I am aware that a few people were talking to a few places,” he said in late March. “I am not aware of anybody who was anywhere close to a deal. I talked to more than one firm about a possible combination, but I never talked to anybody about my individual situation and have barely done so to date.”
A number of sources have said that, while a technical deal may not have been signed, a list of potential Wolf Block attorneys whom Cozen O’Connor might want to contact about making a move was in place before the vote.
Decker said it is “ridiculous” to suggest any firm would need a list to know who the key players are at Wolf Block.
Cozen O’Connor hasn’t been the only firm to grab up Wolf Block attorneys. Duane Morris announced last week that it would be adding more than 40 lawyers from the firm’s labor and employment and litigation practice groups.
Wolf Block’s 60-attorney Roseland, N.J., office confirmed Wednesday that it was reconstituting itself as a stand-alone firm but would keep its options open for a merger.
Other local firms that have brought on Wolf Block attorneys include Blank Rome, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, Flaster Greenberg, Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, Drinker Biddle & Reath, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, Kaplin Stewart and Salvo Landau Gruen & Rogers.
There are a little more than 130 Wolf Block attorneys who have yet to find new jobs, with more than 50 being partners. Groups in Wolf Block’s Harrisburg and Norristown, Pa., offices and in Boston have yet to say what their plans are. There were 11 attorneys in the New York office that didn’t make the move to Cozen O’Connor.