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Baker Hostetler, which was founded in Cleveland almost a century ago, landed in Chicago this week. The firm’s new office opens with four lawyers, including three that it nabbed from Lovells and McDermott Will & Emery. Baker Hostetler is leasing a floor of office space from Drinker Biddle & Reath that can accommodate 24 lawyers, with an option to expand the space to add 10 more lawyers later. Ultimately, the firm expects to have 100 attorneys in the city, said Steven Kestner, Baker’s national executive partner. “We’re not going to be in a rush to do this,” Kestner said. “It might happen quickly. It might be a number of years.” The firm, which now has about 600 lawyers nationwide in 11 offices, already has major clients in the city, including Hyatt Corp. and Boeing Co. While the two new partners hired for the office have expertise in corporate finance and commercial litigation, Kestner expects that the firm will bring its other strengths in tax and intellectual property to Chicago as well. The office will be led by Ronald Okada, a Baker Hostetler partner who moved from Cleveland. Okada, who is the firm’s hiring partner and manages its diversity initiatives, said he will focus on building up the Chicago presence. Timothy Eloe, who is joining the firm as a partner from McDermott, handles buyouts, recapitalizations, mergers and acquisitions. William Kane, who is joining as a partner from Lovells, specializes in contract disputes, business torts, noncompetition agreements and trade secret matters, as does Erin Bolan Hines, who is joining as an associate from Lovells. While Chicago was a magnet for growing law firms before the start of the recession, that influx has slowed recently. This year, only a handful of major firms have arrived in the Midwest’s largest city, including K&L Gates, Lathrop & Gage and Hogan & Hartson, via its anticipated merger with Lovells. Unlike some firms that are more cash-strapped, Kestner said, Baker Hostetler was in a position to make this “long-term investment” because it has no debt on its balance sheet and expects to see revenue and net income rise this year over last year.

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