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Two New England business law firms — one of them the 35-attorney Roche, Carens & DeGiacomo in Boston — announced they have merged to become Murtha, Cullina, Roche, Carens & DeGiacomo in Massachusetts. The former 80-attorney Murtha, Cullina, Richter and Pinney, one of Connecticut’s biggest law firms with offices in Hartford and New Haven, has become Murtha Cullina outside Massachusetts. In two years, the Boston operation is expected to assume the name Murtha Cullina as well. Principals in the firm expect the greatest growth to be in the Boston office, which will remain at 99 High St. The firm also will continue to operate its Woburn, Mass., office. “We’ve had 54 years of modest growth, but we felt [merger] was the way of the future, a way to get more ‘bench strength,’” said Michael T. Putziger, president of the Roche firm and now a member of the merged firm’s executive committee along with Loring A. Cook, Roche’s treasurer. PRIOR COLLABORATION The two firms already shared representation of large clients such as Ahold USA, owner of Stop & Shop and other supermarket chains and of Winn Development Co., a major East Coast real estate developer. Roche, Carens & DeGiacomo also participated in negotiations to construct a new $350 million stadium in Foxboro, Mass., for the New England Patriots. At Murtha, Cullina, Richter and Pinney, the annual revenue was approximately $24 million, compared to annual revenue of $8 million for Roche, Carens & DeGiacomo, said Paul R. McCary, managing partner of the new firm. He had been managing partner of the Connecticut firm. Noting the two firms’ difference in size, he said the teaming of their resources may fall somewhere between a merger and acquisition. “It’s not literally a merger of equals if you look at the numbers,” said McCary, “but if it was just an acquisition you would not see the name change on our part, or two people from Roche Carens on our executive committee.” COMPATIBILITY ESSENTIAL Prior to merger talks that began a year ago, the two law firms worked together in the Primary Law Firm Program of DuPont Co., a “convergence litigation” program in which 36 law firms throughout the country represent DuPont’s interests in their respective regions. The experience taught them they would be compatible in firm “culture” and philosophy, an ingredient that legal industry analysts say is paramount to creating successful law firm mergers. “Compatibility of the firms’ culture was an essential factor,” Putziger agreed. “We looked for professionalism, an orientation to the practice of law as a business but also as a profession, and putting clients’ needs first.” In addition to well-established business law practices of both firms, Murtha Cullina also brings specialties in health care, environmental and utility law to the table. But perhaps more important is the work both have done in national convergence programs, similar to the Dupont effort, for clients that include United Parcel Service and Deere and Co., maker of John Deere tractors. FIRST CLASS ALL THE WAY “We decided in order to continue serving the convergence clients we had, we needed to have a presence in Boston, and not just of five or 10 people,” explained McCary. “And we needed it to be a first-class litigation presence, which Roche Carens is.” That may be the factor that will set them apart from the competition as they forge ahead in their combined state. “The key to success in the marketplace is to be known for something, so if you don’t fit the category of the larger firms, you have to be known for something else,” said James Wilber of Altman Weil Inc., a legal management consultant with offices nationally.

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