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Less than a year after bringing his six-lawyer group from Harvey Pennington to Saul Ewing — where he became co-chairman of the labor and employment practice group — Stephen Cabot has left the firm to start his own consulting business. The Cabot Institute for Labor Relations opened its doors in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., earlier this month, but the five lawyers, including two partners and two counsel, who made the lateral move with Cabot to Saul Ewing will stay at the law firm. When asked whether he knew he would not stay at Saul Ewing for long when he made the move from Harvey Pennington last May, Cabot said no. But he said he only went to Saul Ewing after the group of attorneys formed a consensus that it would be the right place to practice. “But I made no commitment to Saul Ewing to stay for any period of time,” Cabot said. “My situation was always fluid. I’m at the stage of my career where I need to do something fun every day. I’ve been doing the same thing for 25 years and I’ve been thinking about starting my own company for quite some time. And I think Saul Ewing has regional business goals while my practice is more national in nature. I want to do things my own way and not be constricted by the policies of large law firms.” Cabot, 63, has always geared his practice toward representing management — in both union and non-union matters — in labor relations all over the country. In recent years, his practice has evolved to include more advising of clients on preventive measures, which is what his consultancy will do. Cabot said the company will work with corporations to devise human resources policies that fit within business goals. “I just wanted to get out of the business of crisis lawyering,” Cabot said. “And I thought it would be more rewarding professionally and monetarily to go out on my own and start this business.” He said he would like to open several offices across the country, with immediate plans for San Francisco. Cabot said he encouraged Saul Ewing to open a San Francisco office, but the firm demurred because it did not fit with its strategic plan of growing in the Mid-Atlantic region. “It was important to me because I’m in the middle of a case where I’m representing one of the 25 largest corporations in the world and they have significant operations on the West Coast,” Cabot said. “To service that client effectively, I felt we needed to have a San Francisco office.” Saul Ewing managing partner Stephen Aichele said the firm wants to stick with its strategic plan of being a regional law firm and not spend valuable resources opening offices on the West Coast. Aichele said Cabot’s departure was amicable and that Cabot will refer legal work to his five colleagues who are staying behind — partners Christopher J. Murphy and Maria L. Petrillo, counsel Michael E. Lignowski and Wayne E. Pinkstone, and associate Robert Nagle. Aichele admits that much of their practices emanate from work originated by Cabot, who said he has encouraged his former colleagues to aggressively market for new work as he has traditionally done. “I told them to be more independent and make a [professional] life for themselves,” Cabot said. “I also encouraged clients to stay with Saul Ewing if appropriate because it’s an excellent law firm.” When the Cabot group joined Saul Ewing last year, it effectively doubled the size of the labor and employment group — which also includes employee benefits practitioners. The group now has 18 lawyers, including three added in the past year, and will be led by Baltimore partner Harriet Cooperman. “Steve markets like nobody’s business,” Aichele said. “He finds [clients] who don’t know they have a problem [with labor relations] and pulls them in. But he has more wide-ranging interests than we do. When he decided to leave Harvey Pennington, I don’t think he wanted to leave his young people behind. So he found a safe place for them and decided to go off and do something he really wanted to do.” Cabot began his career with a three-year stint at the National Labor Relations Board after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1967. After two years at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, he joined Peckner Dorfman Wolf Runick & Cabot and stayed there until 1990, when he joined Harvey Pennington and became a name partner in 1999. In addition to his practice, Cabot has authored several books, including “Everybody Wins!,” “Up From Confrontation” and “Stephen Cabot’s Complete Guide to Labor Relations in the 21st Century.”

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