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A major labor and employment firm had the City of Brotherly Love on its list of target markets for a new office. Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, which has nearly 350 attorneys, can cross Philadelphia off of its list as of Jan. 1, now that it has acquired four-attorney Simon Moran. Barry Simon and Christopher J. Moran will serve as shareholders in the firm and will continue in their current office space under the banner of Ogletree Deakins. Simon Moran attorneys Dara Penn Newman and Susan O’Neill will also join the larger firm as an associate and of counsel, respectively. Simon said his firm wasn’t necessarily looking to merge into a larger platform. Some professional acquaintances of his opened an office for Ogletree Deakins in Morristown, N.J., a few years ago and, according to Simon, were happy with the transition. They began discussions with Simon and Moran about a year ago in an effort to get them to open a Philadelphia office for the firm, Simon said. He said he had worked with Ogletree Deakins attorneys before and felt the combination would be an easy fit. For 2007, Simon will serve as managing shareholder of the Philadelphia office, and Moran is scheduled to take over in 2008. Gray Geddie, Ogletree Deakins’ managing shareholder, said the firm has several clients in Pennsylvania, particularly in the eastern part of the state. Some of those clients, which are mainly in the service and manufacturing industries, include Tyco and Weichert Realtors, he said. The firm had been servicing those clients from its Morristown office, and Geddie said he felt they would be better served by a Philadelphia presence. Simon Moran has been in existence for a little over 10 years, and the practice focuses on defending wrongful discharge and employment discrimination claims, handling labor arbitrations and injunction proceedings, and advising employers on the proper procedures for hiring, counseling and terminating employees. Ogletree Deakins was ranked 173rd on the 2006 Am Law 200 chart, moving up from 195th place the year before. The firm had a reported $119 million in gross revenues, a revenue per lawyer of $435,000 and profits per partner of $430,000. Those numbers were based off of a total of 273 lawyers. Simon said the rate structure at the two firms was very compatible, adding that there would not be a significant rate change. The firm represents management in all types of employment-related legal matters. After Jan. 1, it will have 350 lawyers located in 28 offices, including Dallas, Phoenix, Miami and Los Angeles. In addition to handling labor and employment law matters, the firm has practices focused on business immigration, employee benefits, and workplace safety and health law. Simon said the additional practice areas would be a benefit to his clients, which include companies involved with health care, education and consumer products. He said the firm does have a few national clients that will also benefit from Ogletree Deakins’ geographic reach. The plan, Simon said, is to grow the Philadelphia office, but there is no set number the firm is looking to hit. “I wouldn’t want to place a limit on it,” he said. Geddie said he anticipates the office growing to about eight to 10 attorneys within three years. Those attorneys would be in the labor and employment area, he said, and not in the firm’s other practices. Ogletree Deakins wasn’t the only firm looking to grow a labor and employment practice in Philadelphia recently. Fox Rothschild merged with 53-attorney Grotta Glassman & Hoffman in October. Despite the firm’s addition, Fox Rothschild chairman Abraham C. Reich said he “would not put labor and employment at the top of the growing areas.” He said any firm would be chasing attorneys with business, regardless of the practice area, but the labor and employment practice has changed recently. The employment litigation that was “really lucrative” in the past, has become more akin to an insurance claim, Reich said. He said that has caused rates to be driven down, making the practice not as attractive to big firms. While a lot of large firms are being forced to do some of that work, Reich said firms could also focus on different aspects of the labor and employment practice.

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