When Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart recently set up shop in Portland, Maine, the national labor and employment shop doubled the population of Am Law 100 firms in the city.
Ogletree joins Littler Mendelson, a rival labor law giant that sounded the moose call with its own move to Maine in early 2015, in establishing offices in Portland. Both outposts focus on servicing clients with labor and employment issues.
It was the ERISA practice and expertise of the team led by Bryne Decker, who left leading Maine firm Pierce Atwood to become a partner at Ogletree, which ranked as a primary motivation for the firm in putting down stakes in Portland, said Ogletree’s managing partner C. Matthew Keen.
“With an ERISA practice, the law is federal and the cases are generally decided on an administrative basis without a significant amount of discovery, so they can provide good value to our clients all over the country,” Keen said of the new Portland-based team.
Also joining Decker at Ogletree will be Pierce Atwood counsel Scott Pomeroy and associate Steven Silver, both of whom have come aboard in the same capacity. Pomeroy will practice out of the firm’s Boston base. Danielle Vanderzanden, another Ogletree partner in Boston, will also help out the firm’s new Portland office.
Jonathan Shapiro, the current co-chair of Littler’s financial services industry group, is also part of the global firm’s six-lawyer Portland office. He was not surprised that a firm like Ogletree made it up to Maine, where Shapiro migrated 16 years ago from Washington, D.C. Since that time, Portland has developed into “a vibrant, growing economy,” he said.
“Firms are starting to realize it’s really a market in its own right,” said Shapiro in welcoming Ogletree to Portland. “Some firms have tried to service it out of Boston, but it’s a very different market.”
As for Ogletree, which in recent months has made headlines for its legal innovation work and a dispute with several former partners, the firm is coming off a successful 2017 in which it saw gross revenue and partner profits rise.