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Pepper Hamilton is engaged in acquisition talks with one of Princeton’s oldest firms, 34-attorney Jamieson Moore Peskin & Spicer, according to sources familiar with the situation. According to those sources, Pepper Hamilton and New York’s Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf would each acquire a portion of the 73-year-old Jamieson Moore firm, which also has a small office in Morristown, N.J. Management at Pepper Hamilton, Jamieson Moore and Windels Marx all declined to confirm or deny the merger rumors when contacted Tuesday afternoon. In July, the New Jersey Law Journal reported that Jamieson Moore was poised for acquisition by 100-lawyer Windels Marx, a Manhattan firm with a 29-lawyer New Brunswick, N.J., office. Firm chairman Thomas Jamieson, whose father and uncle founded the firm in 1927, told the NJLJ that Jamieson Moore recently called together its staff to announce that management was considering merger offers. The corporate and banking boutique had received offers from multiple suitors, partners said over the summer, although they were discreet about identity and insisted that there’s no rush to the altar. Jamieson told the publication that the firm was in solid financial shape and that 1999 was the best year in its history by all measurable statistics. But, he said, “Everyone’s trying to look ahead five or 10 years and say, ‘What’s happening?’ It’s a fact of life, in this economy, that the profession of law is changing rapidly, and we are always open to all options. When somebody makes a proposal to us, we give it serious thought.” Jamieson also said business clients have increasingly complex needs that can better be met by a larger firm, which is also in a better position to attract new associates and lateral hires. Several sources describe Jamieson as one of the deans of the Mercer County bar. In practice since 1959, he assumed the mantle of firm leadership from his father and grandfather. Jamieson concentrates his practice on land-use, banking, insurance and education law. The firm originated in Trenton, N.J., in 1927 and opened a Princeton office in the 1960s. The two sites were eventually consolidated into Princeton in 1984. The Morristown, N.J., office opened five years ago. Fresh off a recent office opening in the high-tech center of Tysons Corner, Va., Pepper Hamilton would be moving into another strong location for technology-based practices. Jamieson Moore describes itself as a business firm, handling banking, insurance, land use, environment, trusts and estates, securities matters and government relations. But the firm could capitalize on emerging growth and venture capital business with its strong transactional practices led by Barry Abelson, chair of the firm’s executive committee, and tap into Jamieson Moore’s impressive client roster. According to the representative list posted on Martindale-Hubbell’s Web site, the firm’s clients include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chase Manhattan Bank, Harleysville Insurance, Prudential Insurance, PNC Bank, Toll Brothers, Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley & Co., Rutgers University, Rider University, and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. “Pepper already has a Cherry Hill office, but it’s clear Princeton is a very attractive area for any firm interested in high-tech/venture capital/emerging growth work,” Coleman Legal Search’s Michael Coleman said. “Combine Princeton with what they already have in Great Valley, Northern Virginia and Center City; it would seem like an attractive fit for Pepper Hamilton.” Sources familiar with the firm say Jamieson Moore would be a good catch especially because of its general business, land-use and banking clients, its roots in the area, and strong contingent of lawyers. The only problem is that it is unknown what group of those attorneys would go to Pepper and what group would wind up at Windels Marx if the deal goes through. Windels Marx’s main practice areas are corporate, litigation, real estate and international work. It was only this past January that the 65-lawyer Windels Marx Davies & Ives merged with 35-lawyer Lane & Mittendorf to create the present firm. Pepper Hamilton’s Cherry Hill, N.J., office consists of 16 attorneys, including Cherry Hill mayor and failed congressional candidate Susan Bass Levin. Pepper has a total of 400 attorneys in 10 offices.

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