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Thompson Coburn is moving into the Chicago real estate market in a big way, betting the industry and the practice area will rebound in the next year to 18 months. The firm has hired 10 real estate lawyers from the Chicago boutique Schain, Burney, Ross & Citron, including name partners Michael Ross and Bernard Citron (a move first reported by Crain’s Chicago Business). After the addition, 20 lawyers will work on real estate matters in Thompson Coburn’s Chicago office. That’s the same number as at the firm’s main St. Louis office. “We had identified real estate as an area where we wanted to grow,” said Tom Minogue, Thompson Coburn’s chairman in St. Louis. “We view that, on a long-term and mid-term basis, as a nice space to be in.” Despite the downturn in the residential and commercial real estate markets, Minogue not only predicted an upswing in the next 18 months, but said he also views the new Chicago contingent as a valuable complement to the firm’s existing public finance practice because so much government bond work has a real estate component. The lawyers coming from Schain Burney, who specialize in land use and zoning issues, haven’t focused on public finance in the past and there’s potential for growth, he said. Citron, Richard Lang, David O’Keefe and Daniel Shapiro started Dec. 1 at the Chicago office as partners, while Christine Bolger and Jessica Schramm came on as associates. Gary Plotnick and Bethany Bruno will start as a partner and an associate, respectively, on Dec. 7, while Ross and Charles Mangum will arrive as a partner and a counsel, respectively, on Jan. 4. Thompson Coburn, which has 370 lawyers nationwide, operates under the name Thompson Coburn Fagel Haber in Chicago in deference to its 2007 merger with FagelHaber. The firm now has 50 lawyers in the city. Citron, who had worked for Schain Burney for 24 years, said he was sorry to leave, but shifting to the larger firm was the best move for his practice. “We had clients who couldn’t pay us anymore,” Citron said. “Ultimately, I just reached a point where I had to make a move.” Jerome Schain and Thomas Burney, the remaining name partners at the boutique, could not be reached for comment.

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