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Citing an increasing inability to secure its usual array of high-end cases, the name partners at Philadelphia’s Mann, Ungar, Spector & Labovitz have decided to dissolve the commercial litigation boutique after 31 years of being in practice and join Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen. Theodore Mann, Barry Ungar, Larry Spector and Judah Labovitz will join the firm’s business litigation practice group as partners effective June 15. The firm’s lone other partner, Marc Zucker, has an offer on the table from Wolf Block but is exploring other opportunities, according to Wolf Block chairman Mark Alderman. Alderman said he had approached his longtime friend Ungar about joining Wolf Block on several occasions over the years and the answer was always a polite no thank you. But when Alderman received a call from Ungar two months ago, things had clearly changed for what has long been one of the city’s best-known commercial litigation boutiques. “It was kind of weird because we had never had a bad year in 30 years,” Ungar said. “In fact, we had our best year in 2000. But in the last year, we noticed that we had some trouble getting the big cases, and it continued into the first quarter of this year. “So I went to talk to Mark, just to find out if he thought what we were experiencing was a cyclical change or there was a structural change in the way business was got and done in Philadelphia. Mark seemed to think it was structural, so we then began talking about us joining the firm. And the reason was while it had begun to affect our bottom line, I was more concerned that it would continue to do so going forward.” Mann, Ungar, Spector and Labovitz all decided to make the move, and Zucker was invited. Ungar said ideally he would have liked to bring the three associates as well, but Wolf Block had financial restraints that prevented that from happening. Ungar said he will miss the cozy setting of a boutique but looks forward to revitalizing his practice at Wolf Block. “It’s been a wonderful world we’ve had here,” Ungar said. “We’ve been able to practice at a great level of sophistication in an intimate environment. But I know the people at Wolf Block, and they have similar values to ours, so we feel comfortable. It was the only firm we looked at.” Alderman said all four new additions will add to the depth, expertise and experience of the litigation department, in which Norman Goldberger has become co-chairman with Jerome Shestack. “We are satisfied that any financial challenges they faced will not be an issue here,” Alderman said. “We think they’ll be a perfect fit for us. The deal was not driven by finances from our perspective; it was driven by their talent and years of excellence.” Alderman said each of his new hires will bring something different to the table. Mann brings his stature as one of the commercial litigation bar’s deans, Ungar and Spector bring experience and versatility, and Labovitz will focus on antitrust work. “Barry and Larry are a terrific generational fit for us,” Alderman said. “We have a lot of litigators who are my age or younger, but we don’t have a lot of people in their generation [Ungar is 59 and Spector is 51].” Mann, now 64, brings a distinguished career and wealth of complex commercial litigation experience. He has served as counsel in a number of major religious liberty cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts. A 1952 graduate of Temple University law school, Mann met Ungar in the late 1960s and the two decided to open their own practice in 1971. Ungar concentrates his practice in complex commercial litigation, especially securities, antitrust, real estate waste disposal, legal malpractice and pharmaceutical litigation. “When we started the firm, it centered on only large commercial litigation practice,” Ungar said. “At that point, 90 percent of our business came from referrals from large firms that were conflicted out of the matter.” The firm, first known as Mann & Ungar, brought in Spector as an associate in 1980. Spector had spent the previous decade as a class action litigator in Chicago. His practice is now devoted to commercial litigation, including cases involving securities, employment and trade secret litigation, real estate transactions, RICO, legal and accounting malpractice, and antitrust matters. Labovitz returns to Wolf Block, where he practiced from 1963 to 1980. He brings to the firm his vast experience in class action, antitrust and complex litigation matters, but Alderman said he will focus on an antitrust caseload. He joined Mann Ungar after Cohen Shapiro Shiekman & Polisher folded in 1995. Mann, Ungar and Spector own the townhouse where their offices are located on 1709 Spruce St. Ungar said the building will go on the market.

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