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Cozen O’Connor is reportedly close to announcing a merger with Fischbein Badillo Wagner Harding, a politically connected 45-attorney New York firm. Sources familiar with the situation said a deal could be announced as early as next week and will most likely include the acquisition of the majority of Fischbein Badillo’s attorneys. Reached through a spokeswoman late Friday afternoon, Cozen O’Connor founder and chairman Stephen Cozen declined to comment. Fischbein Badillo partner Richard Fischbein confirmed that talks were ongoing “between people at both firms.” Cozen O’Connor already has 35 attorneys in Lower Manhattan while Fischbein Badillo is situated in mid-town. After a massive growth spurt in the late 1990s, Cozen O’Connor has been relatively quiet over the past two years, mainly focusing on individual lateral additions. The proposed merger would double the size of the firm’s New York office, one of 21 it has in the United States and London. It would also place Cozen O’Connor, listed as having 482 lawyers as of last summer, well over the 500 lawyer mark. A source familiar with the New York legal community said that Fischbein Badillo has been rumored to be looking for a merger partner for quite some time. “I don’t know how well they have been doing,” the source said. “But everyone always wants critical mass and a deal like that would definitely give it to them.” Fischbein Badillo opened its doors in 1987 and had more than 100 lawyers at one time. It had merged with 12-attorney Florio & Perrucci, run by former New Jersey Gov. James Florio — who left the firm in 2003 to join a client, according to Fischbein. The firm is best-known for two things: its high-profile real estate representations and its political connections. Its best-known real estate lawyer is Gerald Schrager, who has represented developers such as Donald Trump in a variety of projects. He was a principal strategist and negotiator in such projects as the acquisition, financing, development and operation of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Trump Tower, Trump City, 101 Park Avenue and the Concord Apartments. Fischbein Badillo’s political connections are plentiful. The late Robert F. Wagner, a former New York mayor, was a partner until his death in 1995. Partner Herman Badillo, 75, was deputy mayor under Ed Koch in the late 1970s and was special counsel to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for the fiscal oversight of education from 1994 to 1997. He mounted an unsuccessful bid for mayor himself in 2001, losing in the Republican primary to Michael Bloomberg. Raymond Harding, 70, was a special assistant to former New York Gov. Hugh Carey in the 1970s and has a litigation practice. Fischbein, 63, also has a litigation practice. He said the firm has litigated cases in 45 different states. Fischbein Badillo opened a North Jersey office when it merged with the Florio firm, but later closed it. Fischbein Badillo still maintains a satellite office in Long Island. In addition to real estate and litigation, the firm also has practices in bankruptcy, corporate and securities, labor and employment, and government relations.

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