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As part of the firm’s focus on establishing future management, plaintiffs firm Sheller P.C. has brought on Brian J. McCormick Jr., formerly a Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney shareholder. Founding and Managing Partner Stephen A. Sheller said he got to know McCormick when he sought advice on management decisions from Howard D. Scher, co-managing shareholder of Buchanan Ingersoll’s Philadelphia office. Sheller said he was impressed with McCormick’s skills and manner, calling him a “superb lawyer.” McCormick will spend the majority of his time handling the day-to-day management functions for Sheller, McCormick said. He said for now those responsibilities will take up about 70 percent of his time. But over time, he said he expected firm management to be diminished to about 40 percent of his responsibilities. Sheller said he would still retain veto power over management decisions, but McCormick would be given the authority to make most decisions. McCormick and Sheller said McCormick’s management role would not carry a title. Sheller said McCormick had not been selected as the firm’s next managing shareholder. He said when the timing is appropriate the firm will make a decision on the new managing shareholder by consensus, but that he wanted young lawyers like McCormick in place who could handle firm management. “Part of the long-range goal is making sure we have capable management for the future – people who are highly respected and have the ability to manage,” Sheller said. “This firm is not going to be a plaintiffs firm that folds or becomes turned over to whoever is sitting there.” Frank D’Amore of Attorney Career Catalysts said thinking about succession planning was especially important for plaintiffs firms. D’Amore said plaintiffs firms are usually strongly identified with the firm’s leaders – who are often the rainmakers – so thinking ahead about management becomes even more important. “I’d say it’s an astute move to set something up, otherwise [a founding partner retiring] can have profound impact on a firm like that,” D’Amore said. Sheller said McCormick’s experiences as a courtroom litigator, former FBI analyst, and managing editor for the Rutgers Law Journal were attractive, as well as McCormick’s ability to advise Sheller on firm management. Moreover, Sheller said, McCormick’s perspective on the law fit into the firm’s identity of trying to advance the public good. He pointed to McCormick’s role as a board member for the Committee of Seventy. “We take on cases that are of great importance to health and to democracy, and my goal is to see that the firm continues in that direction and gets even better at it,” Sheller said. With McCormick’s management role in place, Sheller said he would devote more time to public health issues that he said were important to him, such as the Lyme Disease Foundation. Sheller said he would remain active in the firm as well. McCormick said his position at Sheller would most accurately be characterized as a non-equity partner. Sheller said he considered McCormick a partner, though the firm – as a professional corporation – has shareholders, of which McCormick is not one. McCormick had been with Buchanan Ingersoll since May 2001 and was named a shareholder earlier this year. Before that he had worked for Elliott Reihner Siedzikowski & Egan, which is now Elliott Greenleaf & Siedzikowski, he said. The Legal named McCormick a “Lawyer on the Fast Track” in 2006. McCormick, who started at Sheller on April 16, described the move to Sheller as a 180-degree turn for him because he’ll be transitioning from handling complex commercial litigation to mass tort work. At Buchanan Ingersoll, McCormick worked in the white collar defense group; now he’ll be handling mass torts on behalf of plaintiffs. For McCormick, joining Sheller was an opportunity to pursue a career change . He said working for a plaintiffs firm gave him a chance to handle different matters for a wide variety of clients and would provide more personal gratification. “[At Sheller] we do what we do for the public benefit. Working for corporate clients isn’t always as gratifying as helping people who can’t help themselves,” McCormick said. Though McCormick said his approach to cases would be different now, he considers himself well prepared for the switch. “I think my strength all through my career is that I’ve worked through large commercial litigation cases. While mass tort is a different beast, through my career I’ve managed a lot of large litigation cases and assisted partners with running those cases,” McCormick said. Though McCormick said he left his largest client with Buchanan Ingersoll, he said he did retain several small clients, for whom he will continue to do defense work. McCormick said he was not at liberty to name those clients. “Steve Sheller and I have an understanding that I will still handle some complex commercial litigation,” he said, adding later, “I didn’t want to entirely leave that area, but I understand that my day-to-day duties will be a more focused on the plaintiffs side now.” Coleman Nourian principal Robert Nourian said switching from corporate defense work to mass torts cases would require strong business judgment. Nourian said the tricky part of the transition would likely be managing cases. He said on the defense side, attorneys are used to getting paid on an hourly basis, while often being encouraged to craft a large number of documents. But, Nourian said on the plaintiffs’ side, attorneys must be more careful how they spend their time because they are the ones investing money in the cases. There’s another change that comes with McCormick’s new position at Sheller – the difference of working at an 11-attorney firm as opposed to his former bustling office at AmLaw 100 firm Buchanan Ingersoll. McCormick said he recently told his former boss Scher in an e-mail that it was “strange not to have 100 people walking around the office.” Instead, the Sheller firm has about 20 people in total, he said. McCormick said he suspected at some point he would miss the resources that come with being at a large international firm, but that “there are ways to get around that.” Ultimately, McCormick said he chose the Sheller firm’s smaller environment because he saw it as a great opportunity. “I’ve grown to respect Steve Sheller over last several months and the type of cases he runs . . . and I think I can add to the firm’s past successes,” McCormick said. “It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but once I made it, it was a definite positive in my – and [my] family’s – life.” Steven Bizar, co-chairman of Buchanan Ingersoll’s litigation section, said McCormick was a “fantastic lawyer” who was loved by the firm. Bizar said the Sheller firm provided McCormick an opportunity for a different career path, and Buchanan Ingersoll’s attorneys were excited for him. “If he decided [plaintiffs work] was not for him, I’m sure he would be welcomed back. He and the Sheller firm remain friends of the firm,” Bizar said.

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