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Somerville, N.J.’s Norris McLaughlin & Marcus doubled the size of its Manhattan presence to 14 lawyers on Tuesday with the acquisition of Szold & Brandwen, an 86-year-old real estate firm with an emphasis on work for co-op apartment boards. The merger makes Norris McLaughlin a 102-lawyer firm and will give Szold & Brandwen real estate lawyers opportunities to keep work they used to refer out, Norris McLaughlin managing partner John Eagan said. The seven Szold & Brandwen lawyers will remain at 14 Wall Street, but they eventually will join the seven intellectual property lawyers that have been in Norris McLaughlin’s quarters at 875 Third Ave. “The merger adds significant real estate, financing and litigation expertise to the already established intellectual property practice in our New York City office, and we are pleased to be able to provide enhanced services to our clients as a result of the Szold & Brandwen attorneys joining the firm,” Eagan said. “We have been trying to diversify the composition of the New York office to replicate the general business practice that we have in the New Jersey office,” Eagan said. “They were looking to associate with another firm.” He says a broker arranged the deal but wouldn’t give the name. Last year, Norris McLaughlin was the 21st highest grossing firm in New Jersey, with $387,400 in revenue per lawyer. Had it had those revenues with the 102 lawyers it has now, the firm would have earned $39.5 million in 2005, making it the 19th highest grossing firm in New Jersey. Like most 100-lawyer firms with roots in suburbia and competition from national firms, Norris McLaughlin isn’t necessarily trying to add lawyers to reach a particular size. It is trying to acquire small firms or groups in the firm’s existing practice areas, Eagan said. “Size follows from a strategic plan of identifying the practice area where you have expertise and growing the practice area,” he said. Szold & Brandwen’s real estate practice includes representing co-op boards and condo associations as well as litigation, sales and purchases, and financial services. “They are one of the leading firms in their practice area,” Eagan said. While Norris McLaughlin has no co-op practice in New Jersey, it does have a real estate finance group, and the merger adds expertise in commercial litigation, Eagan said. And Szold & Brandwen’s clients among non-profit corporations will be able to use Norris McLaughlin tax expertise, he said. Eagan said that in the six weeks leading to the merger, when lawyers on both sides knew the deal was going to go though, the firms worked on matters together. Szold & Brandwen has 11 lawyers in its Martindale-Hubbell listing, but it had nine lawyers just before the merger and two have decided to practice on their own, Eagan said. Alan Blumberg, Ezra Goodman, Dean Roberts and Burt Solomon will join as partners. Mia Falls, J. Joan Hon and Karol Robinson will be associates. On its Web site, Szold & Brandwen boasts of having clients who have been with the firm when it started. “Because of our long history and areas of expertise, we have been approached over the years by many firms regarding mergers,” Roberts said. Joining Norris McLaughlin will enable the Szold & Brandwen lawyers to serve their clients better and expand Norris McLaughlin’s abilities in the New York market, he added.

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