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A new year has brought about a new — and shorter — name for Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley, which officially changed its moniker to Blank Rome. Blank Rome has become the latest Philadelphia firm to discard its traditional name in the past few years as the marketing trend has been to streamline identities instead of holding on to major pieces of the past. But unlike other firms that have followed this path by discarding the names of long-dead firm patriarchs, Blank Rome has had to deal with the sticky situation of removing the name of Marvin Comisky, who was the firm’s managing partner from 1967 to 1988 and now serves as chairman emeritus. While Comisky spends most of his time in Florida, he still has some involvement with the firm, and two of his sons, Ian and Matthew, are Blank Rome partners. Current managing partner Fred Blume said the change was necessitated by the firm’s goals to expand in markets other than Philadelphia, where the firm’s brand name is more familiar than in cities where it is less established, like New York and Washington, D.C. “This is clearly a trend in the business world,” Blume said. “We are already known as Blank Rome anyway, so we are just codifying the reality. This is important to us because we are no longer just in this market. We are trying to build a brand name in New York and Washington, and we think we are better off trying to do that with the shorter name.” In New York, for example, the firm’s office is composed of Tenzer Greenblatt, the 80-attorney firm it acquired two years ago. Since the merger, the firm has been known in New York as Blank Rome Tenzer Greenblatt. Now, however, it will be known as just Blank Rome. Blume said both he and firm chairman David Girard-diCarlo spoke with Comisky about their plans shortly after the firm named its new conference center in his honor last year. “Marvin’s comfortable with it,” Blume said. “He understands how much we all respect him.” Comisky said that when Girard-diCarlo and Blume spoke with him about the change, he was not upset about it but that others close to him needed convincing. “My family was upset about it initially, especially my sons,” Comisky said. “But when I talked to them, I told them that I understood that they took pride in the family name but that times have changed. And I think the firm is doing what it can to keep the name alive.” That being said, Comisky said that he is not a fan of the trend that is shortening firm names for branding purposes. “Today the firm speaks, not individuals,” Comisky said. “It’s hard for me to promote [shortening firm names]. I accept it, but I liked things the way they were.” While firms have been shortening or branding their names for quite some time, the trend hit Philadelphia in full force in 2000. Dechert Price & Rhoads, after merging with a London firm, decided to shorten its name to simply Dechert. Later that year, Saul Ewing Remick & Saul officially changed its name to Saul Ewing, and Reed Smith Shaw & McClay became Reed Smith. And last year Duane Morris & Heckscher decided to go by simply Duane Morris. Morgan Lewis & Bockius, which brands itself simply as Morgan Lewis, decided to keep its official name out of respect for longtime managing partner Morris Bockius. But not every firm is rushing to shorten its name. Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads; Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis; Drinker Biddle & Reath; Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll; and Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen all have decided to keep their names while informally marketing themselves by the shorter names by which they are commonly referred. In addition to the name change, Blank Rome has officially unveiled a new practice structure, which includes three departments (litigation, business and financial services/real estate) containing a total of 19 practice groups. Partners Alan Hoffman, Morey Rosenbloom and G. Craig Lord will head the litigation, business, and financial services/real estate departments, respectively. Additionally, Carl Buchholz, who recently rejoined the firm after serving as special assistant to the president and executive secretary at the White House Office of Homeland Security, will serve as executive partner — a newly created position designed to “groom the future leadership of the firm,” Blume said.

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