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Cozen O’Connor will swallow up most of the lawyers from Fischbein Badillo Wagner Harding in New York, giving the firm two Manhattan offices and doubling the size of its presence there. At least 38 of Fischbein Badillo’s 45 lawyers are leaving for Cozen O’Connor. The Fischbein Badillo firm is known to have a practice emphasis on commercial litigation and real estate as well as a host of political connections. The new practices combine with Cozen O’Connor’s existing New York work, which focuses on insurance regulatory and litigation matters. Herman Badillo, a former New York mayoral candidate, will not be making the move to Cozen O’Connor and instead will concentrate on other business interests, longtime partner Richard Fischbein said. But Fischbein, a commercial litigator, along with fellow name partner Raymond B. Harding, will be joining along with real estate partner Gerald N. Schrager and land use partner Howard B. Hornstein. Cozen O’Connor business litigation chairman Fred Jacoby said the firm was not interested in some of the other lawyers who handle plaintiff litigation for client conflict reasons. Those lawyers will continue to operate a firm, which will retain the Fischbein Badillo name, but Fischbein said if those conflicts subside, they could join Cozen O’Connor at some point. The deal becomes official Monday and Jacoby said 17 lawyers will join Cozen O’Connor as partners. Jacoby said Cozen O’Connor will maintain two offices in Manhattan. Its existing one at 45 Broadway serves the firm’s financial services and insurance clients, and Fischbein Badillo’s office in midtown Manhattan at 909 Third Ave. will primarily focus on real estate, land use and commercial litigation clients. That means the firm is paying rent for two offices in pricey New York City. Jacoby said Fischbein Badillo’s lease does not expire until the end of 2008 but said each locale suits the practice areas of the lawyers. “At the end of the day, it’s a square foot issue and we are fine there,” Jacoby said. “We will have a master system where both offices will have the same phone number, and with technology today, it doesn’t matter much. We have a lot of offices, so we’re pretty efficient with running them.” Fischbein said the two firms almost merged about five years ago. While he claimed not to remember the specific reasons for why a deal wasn’t completed then, he said Cozen O’Connor was not as large as it is now and his firm had almost twice as many lawyers. Fischbein said his firm cut its lawyer roster almost in half about a year ago, with hopes that it could rebuild or be acquired by a large firm with a national presence. He said the firm has always been searching for a corporate practice component and now will be able to utilize lawyers in Cozen O’Connor’s 20 other offices in practice areas such as mergers and acquisitions, tax, bankruptcy and environmental law. Jacoby said talks heated up between the two sides in early January, as Cozen O’Connor began determining which Fischbein Badillo lawyers would best fit into the firm. He said once the latest additions are fully integrated into the firm, it will turn its attention to adding a corporate presence. Fischbein Badillo opened its doors in 1987. 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 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 deep. The late Robert F. Wagner, a former New York mayor, was a partner until his death in 1995. 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. 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 commercial 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 Garden City, Long Island, which he said Cozen O’Connor will sublease from the Fischbein Badillo firm to service certain clients. In a statement released Thursday, Cozen O’Connor CEO Patrick O’Connor said its New York clients already include companies such as AIG, MacAndrews & Forbes, Revlon, AXA Financial and Duane Reade Drugs. The Fischbein Badillo lawyers bring with them a client roster that includes Shady Records/Eminem, Potamkin Companies, HSBC Bank, North Fork Bank and the Trump family. With its new lawyers, Cozen O’Connor now has more than 530 lawyers.

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