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Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young continued the expansion of its investment management group with the addition of five attorneys from Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, including the head of the firm’s investment practice. William H. Rheiner, the partner-in-charge of Ballard Spahr’s investment management group for more than 20 years and former chairman of the firm’s business and finance department, joined Stradley Ronon as a partner along with partners E. Carolan Berkley and John N. Ake, of counsel Lisa M. King and associate Matthew R. DiClemente. The attorneys are maintaining their respective titles they had while at Ballard Spahr. The move is coupled with the departure of the co-chairman of Ballard Spahr’s franchise and distribution practice, and the addition to Ballard of Robert Pratter to help build its insurance regulatory practice. Ballard Spahr Chairman Arthur Makadon said Rheiner’s departure is a lesson learned for the firm. He said the firm had 12 to 15 years to build out the investment management practice and never did it. One of Rheiner’s clients was going to go to Stradley Ronon for its bench strength in the practice and Rheiner had to follow the client over, he said. “Will is a star,” Makadon said. “His star client was going to go to Stradley. Will really had no choice.” Makadon said Ballard Spahr has plans for “robust” growth of its financial services practice, which includes investment management, and will focus that growth mainly out of the Washington, D.C., office. Rheiner and company put Stradley Ronon’s growing investment management/mutual funds group at more than 40 attorneys. The practice now serves more than 700 separate funds with over $1 trillion in assets under management. Rheiner said his move came after a long discussion with one of his largest clients about which of the several firms in town might be a good choice. He said it was a mutual decision between himself and his client to go to Stradley Ronon. While he would have preferred to build out the practice at Ballard Spahr, he said that is a difficult thing to do in this economy. Rheiner said his clients needed depth in the practice and Stradley Ronon was one of the best firms to provide that. Rheiner is no stranger to Stradley Ronon attorneys. He calls several of them friends and has worked closely over the past three years with the firm’s investment management chairman, Bruce G. Leto, in their representation of Delaware Investments, the marketing name of Delaware Management Holdings, he said. Stradley Ronon Chairman William R. Sasso said Ballard Spahr is “an absolutely fantastic firm” in the midst of “tremendous” growth. “We just happen to dominate the market, literally in the country, with [the representation of] mutual funds,” Sasso said. He said Rheiner saw that there were no transition plans for his clients at Ballard Spahr and needed to join a firm with a more sophisticated investment management group. Frank D’Amore of Attorney Career Catalysts said any move in Philadelphia within this practice group is significant because of the small number of firms and attorneys who handle this work in the city. He said Stradley Ronon and Drinker Biddle & Reath are the biggest players in Philadelphia with Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Dechert handling the work mainly out of their respective Washington offices. D’Amore said Ballard Spahr is the only other real player locally in terms of its investment management work. Sasso said the firm isn’t done growing the practice and is finding attorneys interested in joining in both Philadelphia and Washington. Most of the growth in Washington is out of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as opposed to private practice, he said. However, the partner-in-charge of that office, Lawrence P. Stadulis, is an investment management attorney who joined from the Washington office of Morgan Lewis. He said one group the firm is speaking with has a niche practice under the investment management umbrella and is interested in moving it to Philadelphia. Other firms in the area, Sasso said, have had investment management practices, “but we’ve kind of taken it away.” In 2007, for example, Stradley Ronon brought on partner Kenneth L. Greenberg and of counsel Joan Ohlbaum Swirsky from Drinker Biddle. Fournaris Leaves, Pratter Joins Ballard Spahr also saw this month the departure of Dean T. Fournaris, co-head of the firm’s franchise and distribution practice. He moved to the Philadelphia office of Connecticut-based Wiggin & Dana where he is now a partner. Makadon said Fournaris’ departure “makes perfect sense.” He said Ballard Spahr was never going to expand the practice as Fournaris may have wanted. Makadon said the firm is never going to have a franchise and distribution practice as broad as Wiggin & Dana’s. Fournaris said Makadon’s assessment was fair. He said in a tough economic time, it is easier to have a niche practice in a firm where there are several other attorneys handling similar work. Fournaris said his clients would be following him over. He represents a few national restaurant chains, a telecommunications franchisor, health care companies and some automotive aftermarket companies. It wasn’t surprising to D’Amore that Wiggin & Dana was looking for another attorney in its Philadelphia office. The departure of one of the office leaders, Joe Schumacher, to go with a client left the firm with a hole there, D’Amore said. Schumacher was a big part of Fournaris making the move to Wiggin & Dana, Fournaris said. The two had worked together for seven years at a boutique firm. After Schumacher joined Goddard Systems as its chief operating officer, Wiggin & Dana was looking for someone to fill his spot and bring on new clients, Fournaris said. For Ballard Spahr, Makadon said the remaining partner-in-charge of the firm’s franchise and distribution practice, New Jersey-based Benjamin A. Levin, will continue to lead the group. Despite the losses this month that Ballard Spahr has seen in Philadelphia, it has something to look forward to as well. The firm will soon gain Robert Pratter as of counsel in the business and finance department. Pratter, husband of U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, joined the firm from his role as general counsel at PMA Capital Corp. Prior to that, he had long been a partner with Duane Morris. Makadon said Ballard Spahr has had a gap in its insurance practice with not handling any insurance regulatory work. He said Pratter would fill that void and help build that section of the practice.

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