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Greenberg Traurig of Miami has expanded its New Jersey foothold by setting up new and larger offices in Morris County and luring a seasoned New Jersey litigation partner to head the enlarged operation. Philip Sellinger, an 18-year veteran of Sills Cummis Radin Tischman Epstein & Gross in Newark, N.J., will take over as managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s new Florham Park, N.J., office, which may soon house 20 lawyers, the Miami firm announced last Wednesday. The new office will absorb Greenberg Traurig’s five-lawyer Newark branch, founded just four months ago. “I found it impossible to resist the opportunity,” says Sellinger, whose clients include computer manufacturers Hitachi Data Systems and Toshiba and other Pacific-rim companies. He says that Greenberg Traurig, with its strong international practice, is better equipped to handle such clients. Based in Miami, Greenberg Traurig has 875 lawyers in 18 offices nationwide. Greenberg Traurig had the fastest growth in revenue from 1999 to 2000 — 62 percent — of the 200 largest firms in the nation, according to The American Lawyer, a Law Journal affiliate. The firm was originally lured to New Jersey by its pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, says Richard Rosenbaum, managing shareholder of its New York office and operating shareholder for its northeast region. But, he says, the Florham Park office will focus on litigation, real estate, intellectual property, government finance and service to emerging companies. The firm expects to announce hiring of other “top tier” New Jersey lawyers soon, says Rosenbaum. “We look for a certain kind of person, someone who would be entrepreneurial, who thinks outside the box, someone who is collaborative, yet has the profile and the qualifications in the community that will make an important statement that Greenberg Traurig is now here. I can tell you we are not done looking,” he says. Sills Cummis managing partner Steven Gross says Sellinger will be joined by two or three associates but no partners. Gross says Sills Cummis wishes Sellinger well, adding that the firm has had no trouble attracting lateral partners and that lawyers are more mobile than they were 10 years ago. “It’s pervasive, and it works both ways,” he says. Sellinger’s departure comes seven months after Sills Cummis established a San Francisco office to serve Pacific-rim clients. Gross says the number of lawyers there is “in flux.” The firm is negotiating to add lawyers in San Francisco; partner Ira Rosenberg recently moved west to head that office. The firm has 150 lawyers and four locations. But Greenberg Traurig offers much more depth. In its New York office, partner Kunichika Nakano heads a practice serving U.S. interests of Japanese clients. Nakano, who is fluent in Japanese and is admitted to practice law in Japan as well as New York and California, specializes in mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy and contract negotiations. The 200-lawyer New York office also includes partner Grace Parke Fremlin, who represents Japanese, Korean and Chinese companies in cross-border mergers and acquisitions and represents U.S. companies with business in Asia. MOVING TO FIRMS ON THE LIST Moves like Sellinger’s are driven by corporations’ efforts to channel their outside legal work to select firms, and New Jersey can expect to see more of it, says Ronni Gaines, an owner of Topaz Attorney Search in West Orange, N.J. “The ‘approved list’ for national firms is shrinking so dramatically, it’s shocking,” says Gaines. As a result, out-of-state firms that sense an opportunity are “cherry picking” New Jersey firms, she says. “It’s happening at such a flurry now, you can barely keep track of who’s coming in to the state.” Greenberg Traurig is a client of Topaz, but Gaines declines to say if it was involved in the Sellinger move.

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