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Two veteran Atlanta attorneys have joined Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice to start new practice groups at the Atlanta office, which the firm hopes to double in size. Walter O. Lambeth Jr. and Elizabeth W. Boswell join Womble Carlyle with a combined 52 years of legal experience. Lambeth, who retired from Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson in 2002, will start a labor and employment group and has signed on as counsel. Boswell, who left Smith Moore after a year and a half, following 17 years at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, is a partner and will establish an environmental practice for the Atlanta office. The firm’s other offices already have these practices, said Steven S. Dunlevie, the local managing partner for the N.C.-based firm. Dunlevie said the firm would like to double the number of lawyers — 75 at present — in its Atlanta office “as soon as possible.” To do this, the firm is considering mergers or hiring groups of laterals. “It’s not just onesies and twosies,” he said. He would not comment on any merger prospects but said that most local midsize firms that could be subsumed into Womble already have been taken. When asked if a merger with a similarly sized firm was possible, he said that the firm, which has about 500 lawyers, “is not ruling anything out” but would have to weigh the importance of its own identity in such a case. The firm was founded more than 100 years ago in Winston-Salem and is well-established in North Carolina. The Atlanta office was established in 1993. Lambeth, 65, said boredom with retirement drove him back into law practice. He said he bought a house in the North Carolina mountains, and “my idea was to go sit on the porch and rock. But I got a little bored doing that,” he said. “I needed something more of an intellectual challenge.” “We struck a chord with him that was exciting,” Dunlevie said, by offering the chance to develop the labor and employment practice. “He wanted a new challenge other than just practicing law.” In his 34-year career, Lambeth has conducted several hundred union representation campaigns. He started at Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, where he spent 10 years followed by 24 years at Elarbee. Elarbee’s managing partner, Stanford G. Wilson, said Lambeth did not take clients to Womble. “He was a good partner, and we wished him well in his retirement. He helped transition his client base to this firm before he left,” Wilson said. Boswell will start an environmental and toxic tort litigation group in Womble’s Atlanta office, which has been short of environmental lawyers, said Dunlevie. “We’d been trying to get the exact right lawyer for some time,” he said. Boswell left Smith Moore, which has only 12 attorneys in Atlanta, for the combination of the “institutional heft” from Womble’s existing Atlanta clients, plus the opportunity of starting a new group. She also had left Sutherland because client conflicts there inhibited the growth of her practice, she said. She said she’s bringing clients with her to Womble but declined to name them.

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