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PHILADELPHIA � Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is keeping up with what seems like an annual tradition � a combination every June or July. Granted this latest one doesn’t come in the form of dozens or hundreds of lawyers, but the firm is adding a seven-lawyer firm in San Diego, effective June 1. Alhadeff & Solar brings two new offices to Buchanan Ingersoll, with one in downtown San Diego and the other in the Inland Empire in Temecula. Buchanan Ingersoll already has an office in the Del Mar area of San Diego. Name partners Sam Alhadeff and Keith Solar will be shareholders at Buchanan Ingersoll and will bring with them senior attorneys Robert Edmunds, S. Douglas Kerner and associates Kelly Alhadeff-Black, Richard Bayless and Cyril Dantchev. “We’ve been looking to grow in San Diego and actually to grow in California,” Buchanan Ingersoll Chief Executive Officer Thomas VanKirk said. In order to be truly national as opposed to having several national practices, the firm needs to have a strong presence on the West Coast, he said. Buchanan Ingersoll had spoken with several firms in the San Diego area, but some of its existing partners there were resistant to bringing on any firm that wasn’t solely litigation focused, VanKirk said. He said the firm as a whole is looking to build the transactional side in areas like real estate. Although the deal with Alhadeff & Solar was looking good anyway, it was the departure of some of those resistant partners that VanKirk said really moved the talks along. Daniel Pascucci, the San Diego office managing partner, and intellectual property partner Andrew Skale left the firm April 3 for the San Diego office of Boston-based Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo. Two associates joined them. VanKirk said the attorneys didn’t leave because of the conflict over whom to bring to the firm, but because they were having trouble finding local work and needed to go to a firm with a larger presence in California that could feed them the local work. Pascucci said the reason for his departure was to the contrary. He said his team has far more work than they can handle at Mintz Levin and is giving it out to other attorneys and offices. While he certainly wanted more litigators in the San Diego office of Buchanan Ingersoll, Pascucci said he would have been happy with growth in any area. “I came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t a good fit for me,” he said. “I wasn’t the right person to lead that office in the direction [the firm wanted it to go].” He said his recruiting style, of only looking to the top-notch practitioners in the San Diego area, was divergent from the firm’s outlook on growing the office. What Buchanan Ingersoll ultimately got in its acquisition of Alhadeff & Solar was a firm that handles business law, litigation matters and water law matters. Solar is known for his work in water law and in the tuna industry, with representations of Basin Water, South Pacific Tuna Corp. and Chicken of the Sea International. The firm also handles land use and environmental work out of the Inland Empire area. Alhadeff has assisted developers in various matters in that location, including Beazer Homes and Pulte Homes. AccentCare, a large in-home health care provider, is also a client of the firm’s. Alhadeff said he wasn’t looking to merge into a larger firm. He came back from vacation last summer to a message from his good friend, and Buchanan Ingersoll biotechnology section chairman, Edward Allera.
‘We’ve been looking to grow in San Diego and actually to grow in California.’

THOMAS VANKIRK Buchanan Ingersoll


VanKirk said Allera had been urging the firm to look at Alhadeff & Solar for a long time. Alhadeff said he agreed to meet with people from the firm after talking to Allera and “they just met the good person test.” He said his firm needed help with infrastructure work they are looking to get. The San Diego Chargers, he said, are looking to a build a new stadium and that is something Buchanan Ingersoll has experience with given its ties to the Rooney family and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The recent addition of former California congressman Bill Thomas to Buchanan Ingersoll’s Washington office will also help with Alhadeff & Solar’s practice in infrastructure and government work. Thomas will be spending a lot of time in California, along with another recent addition Charles Knox. Alhadeff said Knox’s addition and Buchanan Ingersoll’s interest in Las Vegas would fit well with his firm’s real estate work. He said several of his clients who are large developers have offices in Nevada. Alhadeff & Solar’s work in water law, an area now mainly handled by Solar, was something VanKirk said he saw as a perfect fit to the firm’s interests in expanding in California. “Real estate in the West Coast has a lot to do with water rights,” he said. VanKirk said the firm would maintain the three San Diego offices for the time being. He said it is important for Alhadeff & Solar to have offices in Inland Empire and to be in downtown San Diego for their respective practices. Buchanan Ingersoll’s intellectual property group needs to be in the more northern office of Del Mar, he said, because that is where the city’s technology sector is. VanKirk said it is common for large firms to have several offices in San Diego and throughout California. The firm will continue to build its California presence, he said, and would be interested in growing in San Diego as well as possibly opening an office in Orange County. Gina Passarella is a reporter with The Legal Intelligencer, a Recorder affiliate based in Philadelphia.

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