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Smith, Gambrell & Russell has doubled the size of its health care practice group by acquiring a five-lawyer boutique, the McDowell Law Group. Stephen M. Forte, managing partner of Smith Gambrell, says his firm gains “regulatory expertise, critical mass of health care clients, and depth of dedicated health care expertise” with the addition of the McDowell team. Forte says he expects to add more health care lawyers but declined to specify how many. He says he thinks the expanded practice will make the firm more attractive to potential clients. Theodore N. McDowell Jr., founder of the McDowell Law Group, will lead the expanded health care group. McDowell says his old firm wasn’t shopping for a merger. Smith Gambrell, he says, “happened to come to us.” His clients, he says, needed “expanded resources.” McDowell joined as an equity partner while the four McDowell Law Group associates, Charles L. Carder III, Wendi Johnson, Faith T. Knight and Nichole J. Starr, joined as associates. A former summer associate at Smith Gambrell, McDowell graduated from Emory University School of Law and joined Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs in 1987. He became a partner in 1992 and remained there until 1999, when he left to start his own firm. Richard H. Vincent is the managing director of the Atlanta office of Epstein, Becker & Green, a general practice firm with a primary concentration on health care and labor and employment. He says that Smith Gambrell’s merger with the McDowell firm makes sense for two reasons: McDowell no longer has to balance law firm management with trying to compete in the health care legal market, he says. And he notes that Smith Gambrell’s antitrust, securities, and mergers and acquisitions resources will aid the former McDowell health care practice. KING & SPALDING ADDS PARTNERS King & Spalding’s New York office has four new partners, bringing the total of lawyers there to 100. With the latest additions, all from New York’s Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, K&S’ New York office has grown by nearly 50 percent over the past year. Jeffrey Q. Smith, Steven G. Brody, Scott E. Eckas and Susan F. DiCicco joined K&S this month. All four are members of the litigation group, where they will continue to work with clients involved in securities and other complex commercial litigation. Three of the new attorneys are equity partners, says Richard A. Cirillo, litigation team leader for K&S’ New York office. He declined to comment on which one joined the firm as a nonequity partner. Smith, Brody and Eckas were partners at the Cadwalader firm; DiCicco was an associate. Cirillo says the four lawyers brought “all or virtually all of the clients” for whom they were working at Cadwalader, including Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston and Anacomp. Also, says Cirillo, the four bring “enormous experience in complex commercial litigation, particularly in securities and antitrust.” They all have extensive experience in representing the financial services industry, he adds. Smith has practiced in the areas of securities, antitrust and trade regulation, and complex commercial litigation for 25 years. At Cadwalader, Smith was co-chairman of the litigation department and a member of its management committee. Brody represents companies in the consumer products and securities industries in commercial disputes, including First Amendment, advertising, employment, securities and commodities matters. The focus of his work in commercial disputes involves breaches of contract and business torts. Eckas focuses his practice on banking and securities litigation, as well as litigation related to mergers and acquisitions. He also has represented financial institutions in trading and customer disputes, as well as in investigations conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory bodies. An associate at Cadwalader, DiCicco represented members of the investment banking industry in complex commercial litigation matters. A primary focus of her practice is litigation involving complex financial instruments and derivatives. Robert O. Link Jr., Cadwalader’s managing partner, declined to comment on the departure of the four attorneys except to say he has “a great deal of respect for Atlanta and King & Spalding.” King & Spalding opened its New York office nine years ago and is engaged in litigation, M&A, finance, municipal securities and real estate matters. Overall, the firm has 650 lawyers in offices in Atlanta, Washington, New York and Houston, with nearly 40 percent based outside Atlanta. NEW PLAINTIFFS’ FIRM FORMED Two associates at Parks, Chesin, Walbert & Miller have left to start their own firm. Jonathan W. Johnson and Mitchell D. Benjamin formed Johnson & Benjamin on Jan. 2. Johnson says the two-lawyer firm will represent plaintiffs in wrongful death, personal injury and employment cases. “We both had rapidly growing practices and thought partnership would be a year or more away” at Parks Chesin, says Johnson, who had been with that firm since September of 1999. Benjamin, who represents plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases, says, “It has always been a dream of mine to be self-employed. Every day I see a reason to be self-employed.” Benjamin had been with Parks Chesin since 1997. Johnson would not rule out the possibility of a merger with Mitchell & Shapiro, the two-lawyer litigation outfit with which Johnson & Benjamin shares office space. Mitchell & Shapiro does commercial business litigation and plaintiffs work in product liability, personal injury and medical malpractice actions. As for a potential merger, Mitchell & Shapiro partner Kenneth A. Shapiro says, “There’s been no discussion of that,” but he adds that “anything is possible.” Larry H. Chesin, managing partner of 10-lawyer Parks Chesin, says the firm is looking for two associates to replace Johnson and Benjamin. Chesin adds that the two ex-associates took a “minimal” amount of client work from Parks Chesin.

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