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Philadelphia-based Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley has enhanced its already-strong public finance practice group with the addition of two local partners, including a senior partner from Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. Robert Tuteur, who joined Schnader Harrison only last summer when it merged with Mesirov Gelman Jaffe Cramer & Jamieson, was voted into partnership at Blank Rome on Monday night. Tuteur becomes the first senior Mesirov partner to defect from the Schnader ranks. Joining Tuteur at Blank Rome will be Marc Stein, a partner at Media’s Kassab Archbold & O’Brien, who will move to Philadelphia’s Center City so he can be located in the same office as the other lawyers in the practice group. Tuteur did not respond to numerous attempts to reach him for comment last week. But Blank Rome co-chairman and managing partner Fred Blume confirmed the additions during an interview last week. Blume said the firm had been interested in Tuteur last spring when Blank Rome was involved in merger negotiations with Mesirov. While those talks ended with Tuteur joining his 40-plus Mesirov colleagues at Schnader, Blume said the courtship picked up again this year. “Bob and [Blank Rome financial services practice group chair] Joan Stern have known each other personally and professionally for years,” Blume said. “It’s a growing and important practice for us, and to get someone with Bob’s experience and reputation as a bond lawyer is great.” Tuteur, according to several sources, has one of the top five or six books of business out of the Mesirov attorneys that joined Schnader. The only other partner who has left is Jeffrey Greenfield, a younger corporate partner who joined Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg & Ellers earlier this year. According to sources familiar with the deal signed between the Mesirov and Schnader firms last June, the new Schnader partners were subject to a “handcuff” provision in which they forfeited recovering their capital contributions that carried over from Mesirov if they left the firm within three years after the merger. Richard Jaffe, Mesirov’s managing partner and now an executive committee member at Schnader, said the provision was most likely not something that would have inhibited Tuteur from leaving. Because the capital contribution account grows over time, lawyers who had been with Mesirov for a long time, like Jaffe, would stand to lose the most amount of money. Tuteur only joined Mesirov in the mid-1990s, so his financial loss will not be as great, Jaffe said. As for Tuteur’s departure, Jaffe said it is merely a product of the lure of Blank Rome’s strong bond practice and not a sign of any major dissatisfaction with Schnader. “Bob’s a very talented bond lawyer, and this is a season of free agency,” Jaffe said. “Blank Rome has a strong bond practice, and I know he has some good friends over there. [Public finance] is not really a core practice at Schnader like it is at Blank Rome.” While several sources say Schnader lawyers were none too pleased to lose one of the veteran cogs of the Mesirov group so soon after the merger, Jaffe said he does not believe that to be the case. “I have not heard from [Schnader chairman] Ralph Wellington or anyone else to that effect,” Jaffe said. “They bought a 45-attorney group from Mesirov. We have some producers, and we have some workers. But even if you lose a producer like Bob, or even someone like myself or [corporate partner and rainmaker] Bob Krauss, I don’t think it’s anything more than a blip for a 350-attorney firm. Now, if there were a string of departures, there might be a problem, but that’s not the case.” Tuteur graduated from Temple University Law School in 1972 and practiced at several firms before joining Mesirov in the mid-1990s. His practice consists of acting as bond counsel, issuer’s counsel, trustee’s counsel, credit enhancement provider’s counsel, or counsel to underlying borrowers in all types of public finance transactions, including general obligation bond financing, health care financing, single-family mortgage revenue bond financing, higher education financing, and tax and revenue bond anticipation note financing. Stein started his legal career in the Reading, Pa., offices of Stevens & Lee in 1984, before moving to Kassab Archbold in 1990. He said he has handled a lot of bond work with the Blank Rome public finance group in the past and looks forward to expanding his practice by tapping into the firm’s depth and experience. His practice, centered in Delaware County, Pa., includes representation of municipalities, investment banks, borrowers and corporate clients in public financing matters. “He’s got a strong presence in Delaware County, and we believe he’ll make a solid addition to our group,” Blume said. In addition to its new members and Stern, the Blank Rome public finance group includes partners Jeffrey Blumenfeld, Karen Du Brul and Jeremy Spector, as well as three associates in Philadelphia. Blank Rome also announced that it has hired Sharon Zealey, the outgoing U.S. Attorney in southern Ohio, as a partner in its newly formed Cincinnati office. Blume said the addition of Zealey, the first African-American and woman to serve as U.S. Attorney in that jurisdiction, should give the firm’s new office heightened visibility in Ohio. The firm also added intellectual property partner Joel Wolfson to its Washington, D.C., office. He spent the last decade with the Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. as an in-house counsel.

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