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Chicago-based Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal is expected to announce today its acquisition of New York’s RubinBaum, adding between 50 and 55 lawyers to Sonnenschein Nath’s 80-lawyer New York office. “Our strategy is to grow in New York,” said Robert L. Winikoff, Sonnenschein Nath’s New York managing partner. “This is a strong group of lawyers and a strong addition to our capabilities in New York.” Counting the lawyers from RubinBaum, Sonnenschein Nath has a little under 600 lawyers nationwide. Winikoff said RubinBaum had a strong litigation and transactional practices that would complement similar practice groups at Sonnenschein Nath. In particular, both firms have substantial practices dedicated to obtaining federal tax credits for financial institutions and other clients that invest in the construction of affordable housing. The addition of RubinBaum also would significantly bolster certain practices at Sonnenschein Nath. RubinBaum’s well-regarded entertainment practice has represented the Beatles, Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and other celebrities in a variety of litigations. RubinBaum also has a strong copyright and trademark practice. Apart from its New York office at 30 Rockefeller Center, RubinBaum also has a five-lawyer office in Short Hills, N.J. If the merger goes through, the two firms will combine their staffs at Sonnenschein Nath’s offices at 1221 Sixth Ave., Winikoff said. In addition to Chicago and New York, Sonnenschein Nath also has offices in Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and West Palm Beach, Fla. Sonnenschein Nath’s move follows a trend of larger Chicago firms acquiring small and midsize New York firms. Chicago’s Katten, Muchin & Zavis merged with New York’s Rosenman & Colin in March to form KMZ Rosenman. A year ago, Chicago’s Sidley & Austin and New York’s Brown & Wood combined in one of the largest law firm mergers ever. Chicago firms have been drawn east because of the higher profitability of the New York market and the desire to increase their reach into international markets, said Winikoff. Sonnenschein Nath’s firmwide profits per partner for 2001 were $510,000, Winikoff said. The number is up significantly from the $370,000 figure for 2000 published last summer in the American Lawyer‘s Am Law 100. Winikoff said much of the improvement is due to the New York office, where he said the profits per partner averaged about $700,000. RubinBaum’s profits per partner are around $600,000, he said. With the addition of RubinBaum, Sonnenschein Nath’s presence in New York will have tripled in the last two years. Winikoff himself joined Sonnenschein Nath when the Chicago firm acquired his old 18-lawyer firm of Cooperman Levitt Winikoff Lester & Newman in 2000. Last year the firm also added 12 lawyers from Rosen & Reade, a trusts and estates boutique, and a six-lawyer bankruptcy group from Pryor Cashman Sherman & Flynn. Winikoff said the firm was hoping to increase its New York staff to more than 200 lawyers within a year or so. “The top item on our strategic agenda is to be and become a major player in the New York market,” he said. “For that, we think we need to have at least 200.”

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