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J. Bruce McKissock and Peter J. Hoffman have been a team for years. They played on the same football and lacrosse teams in high school, worked together years ago at Duane Morris and then formed their own firm, McKissock & Hoffman, in the late 1980s. Now, with more than 40 lawyers who focus on professional liability and insurance matters, the firm plans to dissolve by the end of the month. Hoffman, 62, and several other attorneys will be joining the Philadelphia office of Pittsburgh-based Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott. While he couldn’t say which attorneys would follow him to his new firm, Hoffman said it would be a large group of both shareholders and associates. McKissock, 63, has not yet decided where he will go, Hoffman said. Some of McKissock’s clients presented conflicts with longstanding Eckert Seamans clients, Hoffman said. Shareholders John J. McGrath and Reed K. Haywood will be joining the Philadelphia office of Pittsburgh-based Dickie McCamey & Chilcote. Hoffman said the pair handled mainly casualty litigation. William J. Mundy, who handled nursing home litigation, is exploring his options, Hoffman said. “It’s increasingly difficult for single-focus, medium-sized firms to compete in a market like this,” Hoffman said. Firms like McKissock & Hoffman could do one of two things, he said. It could take what he called the Post & Schell model by diversifying, or it could merge into a larger firm. Hoffman had wanted the entire firm to be absorbed, but he said there “wasn’t a perfect fit for everybody.” He said it would be better to be in a larger, more diverse firm, and Eckert Seamans was the best fit for the largest group. “It was very emotional,” Hoffman said. For several of the shareholders, McKissock & Hoffman was their first and only job out of law school, he said. Hoffman said he and his group would probably start at Eckert Seamans by Oct. 1. Eckert Seamans Chief Executive Officer Timothy P. Ryan said a “substantial portion” of McKissock & Hoffman attorneys would be joining his firm, both in the Philadelphia and Harrisburg offices. He said negotiations with some of the attorneys are still ongoing. While not all of McKissock & Hoffman’s practice areas fit with Eckert Seaman’s model, Ryan said the firm has “one of the pre-eminent professional liability practices and that is the piece that really interested us.” Hoffman has led that practice group and has focused the majority of his practice in representing clients in medical and legal malpractice, commercial litigation, construction, products liability, toxic torts and insurance-coverage cases. While Ryan wouldn’t say how much this addition would mean for his firm in terms of revenue, he said the group has “very large billings.” Frank D’Amore of Attorney Career Catalysts said McKissock & Hoffman, particularly through its name partners, had a very good reputation in Philadelphia. He said the acquisition is a significant one for Eckert Seamans. Dickie McCamey Managing Partner Jeff Wiley said McGrath and Haywood were the only two attorneys who were confirmed as joining the firm. He said there is the possibility of other McKissock & Hoffman lawyers moving over at a later date. Their addition brings the firm’s Philadelphia office, which opened in 2000, to 11 attorneys. He said both McGrath and Haywood were admitted to the bar in New Jersey and would spend part of their time practicing from the firm’s Haddonfield office. It is still up in the air as to when McGrath and Haywood will officially begin at Dickie McCamey. Wiley said he hopes they will make the transition within the next couple of weeks. McKissock & Hoffman is not only the second Philadelphia law firm this week to announce that it is disbanding, but it is the second to have attorneys join Pittsburgh firms. Miller Alfano & Raspanti said Wednesday that it was breaking up, with 10 of the 35 lawyers moving to the Philadelphia office of Pietragallo Bosick & Gordon. Valerie Esposito of McAnney Esposito Kraybill & Associates in Pittsburgh said firms in the Steel City are looking to grow in other markets. “It’s a shrinking client environment and extremely competitive,” Esposito said of the Pittsburgh legal market. Firms from the western part of the state are looking to capitalize on the work that firms in the eastern portion of Pennsylvania may have left behind, she said. “What’s insignificant for large Philadelphia firms, can be very significant for midsized firms in Pittsburgh,” Esposito said,” adding later, “firms are beating down our door to merge.” This emphasis on growth in Philadelphia, she said, is tied to the economy, increasing billing rates and work left by the larger firms. Wiley said his firm hasn’t focused on growing in the Philadelphia market specifically, but it is looking at continued expansion from its Pittsburgh roots. He said the firm has grown in the eastern part of the state as well as South Jersey with a focus on becoming a larger, regional firm. Eckert Seamans has been growing its Philadelphia office in recent months. The firm added nine of the 13 attorneys from bankruptcy boutique Adelman Lavine Gold Schildhorn & Kleban in April, effectively closing that firm. There are currently 45 attorneys in the Philadelphia office. “Philadelphia, we believe, has just an outstanding economy that is different, we believe, than a Pittsburgh economy,” Ryan said. Eckert Seamans is still looking to expand in Philadelphia, he said, but there are no target numbers. While it is still “very odd” to have two Philadelphia firms break up back-to-back, D’Amore said, “in some respects, it’s a sign of the times.” For firms about the size of Miller Alfano or McKissock & Hoffman, they would have had an advantage 10 years ago over large firms because of lower billing rates, he said. Now, it has become particularly difficult for a smaller firm with a single focus to compete against big firms, D’Amore said.

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