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Alan Cotler and Joan Yue, two of three partners who opened Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling’s Philadelphia office seven years ago, have left the firm to join Reed Smith. Cotler is a veteran commercial litigator with a diverse and well-respected practice who spent the bulk of his career at Pepper Hamilton before joining Klett Rooney in September 1994 with Yue and real estate partner Jan Krasnowiecki. William Schorling moved from Klett Rooney’s Pittsburgh office to Philadelphia and eventually became the office’s managing partner as it grew to eventually have 55 lawyers. But Cotler, who resigned Monday and had already moved into new digs at Reed Smith by Tuesday afternoon, said he felt his practice required the additional resources of a large firm. Michael Scott, a former partner from his Pepper Hamilton days, encouraged Cotler earlier this year to think about moving to Reed Smith. “Mike told me to come over and check things out for myself,” Cotler said. “I was intrigued by the power of the Reed Smith name, its resources and its reputation. Klett Rooney has been very good to me, and my practice had grown while I’ve been here. But it could grow even more if I was at a large, national firm.” So Cotler soon informed Yue, his partner of more than 20 years, of his discussions, and she joined him as he met with the likes of new firm chairman Gregory Jordan and new Philadelphia office managing partner Robert Nicholas. Cotler said he came away impressed by the youth and energy of Reed Smith’s leadership, as well as their commitment to making the firm a pleasant place to work, and he said now he is better equipped to deal with life at a large firm than he was when he was at Pepper Hamilton. “Sometimes when you start at a large firm it’s hard to make your mark when you are always doing work for more senior people,” Cotler said. “It’s good to go to a midsized firm where you can gain some confidence and build your own portfolio. But what I found was that my practice got to the point where I wasn’t able to compete for certain cases because Klett Rooney doesn’t have the depth or reputation [of a large firm]. So I began to think that a large firm like Reed Smith would be a better fit.” Nicholas said Cotler’s practice dovetails with Reed Smith’s, as he shares many of the same clients as the firm. “He has relationships with our clients, he has a substantial practice, and he’s just a great trial lawyer,” Nicholas said. “I think he’ll enable us to expand on some of those relationships while giving us a high-powered litigator in the process.” Klett Rooney Philadelphia office managing partner Fred D’Angelo, another former Pepper lawyer, said he was not surprised that Cotler chose to leave. “Every year Alan has issues with the firm and the firm has issues with Alan,” D’Angelo said. “I think the last straw that spurred him to make this move was that he was upset that he was not the Philadelphia litigator selected to be [the representative] on the practice management committee. I’ve known Alan for 20 years, and I hope he flourishes at Reed Smith. He’s a very strong-willed person, and I hope they can accommodate that.” Cotler denied D’Angelo’s version of events. “It’s not accurate,” Cotler said. “The practice management committee is not a very important committee. I’d been on the strategic planning committee at the firm. … Maybe that’s Fred’s way of rationalizing another departure from Klett Rooney. But even before that decision [concerning the practice management committee] was made, I had been exploring the possibility of moving to a larger firm. Even Fred and his group explored the possibility of doing the same thing about two years ago. We actually looked into things together.” D’Angelo said he expected one, possibly two, associates to join Cotler at Reed Smith. He added that he doesn’t expect Klett Rooney to lose money with Cotler’s departure, as long as the firm can fill the time of the associates working with Cotler who decide to remain. Two partners that recently joined the firm from the now-defunct Manta & Welge, Joseph Manta and Thomas O’Brien, have both been clamoring for associate help, so D’Angelo said he does not expect the firm to have any problems keeping those associates busy. Klett Rooney’s Philadelphia office, which started with the aforementioned three lawyers and was beefed up with the 1997 addition of 21 labor and employment attorneys from Pepper Hamilton (including D’Angelo), now has roughly 55 lawyers. The firm has also added a thriving Wilmington, Del., office. Cotler, a varsity basketball player on nationally ranked and Ivy League championship teams as an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania (1968 to 1972), went on to get his MBA at the Wharton School (1974 in health care administration) and graduate from Georgetown University Law Center (1977). He joined Pepper in 1978. Cotler has a general litigation practice, which includes cases in areas such as health care, environmental, product liability, RICO, intellectual property, insurance, employment and administrative law. Two years ago, Cotler secured a $3.2 million verdict — most of which was in the form of punitive damages — for a Chester County, Pa., couple after shoddy workmanship on their luxury home in Charlestown Township, Pa. In 1992, Cotler and Yue secured a $14 million verdict in federal court in Florida on behalf of the Detroit, Mich., police and fireman pension fund on a counterclaim arising from a complex real estate development project in Orlando. The group had invested in the shopping mall development. Cotler said he couldn’t imagine practicing without Yue, who joined Pepper in 1980 and became a partner six years later. Also departing Klett Rooney is labor and employment partner James Sullivan, who joined Comcast as vice president of human resources for the cable division. D’Angelo, who practiced with Sullivan at Pepper and Klett Rooney, said he hates to see him go but understands his reasoning. “He had been spending about 60 percent of his time doing this kind of work for Comcast,” D’Angelo said. “Comcast felt they could pay just a little more and have him full time. But we’ll now be his lawyers, so we’ll still have contact with Jim. And it’s a great opportunity for him.”

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