New Orleans skyline. Photo: Shutterstock

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani announced the opening this week of an office in New Orleans and the hiring of a five-partner team from local firm Bland & Partners, including name partner David Bland.

The N’awlins opening counts as the 851-lawyer firm’s 51st office nationwide and its fourth new one in 2018. Gordon Rees, which had $331 million in gross revenue last year, set up shop in Detroit and Missoula, Montana, in April, two months after the firm moved into Louisville, Kentucky.

Dion Cominos

“It has been an ongoing initiative for the last decade or so,” said Dion Cominos, Gordon Rees’ managing partner since 2006, about his firm’s nationwide expansions.

Cominos noted that breaking into New Orleans was not, despite the port city’s nickname, easy. He endured multiple false starts and came to recognize that the city is a traditional legal market that is “harder to break into.”

The acquisition of the Bland team follows “a very thorough and long vetting process,” Cominos said. “We have said no to a number of opportunities that we just didn’t think were the right fit. I’ve flown down there [to New Orleans] several times and spoken with different groups.”

But his travels ultimately led to Gordon Rees landing Bland, a veteran litigator with 34 years of experience representing domestic and international onshore and offshore commercial bridge, pipeline and power plant construction companies, energy and marine operators and contractors, shipyards, marine and rig fabrication facilities, government contractors, vendors and engineering firms.

David Bland

Bland, who was unavailable for immediate comment, comes to Gordon Rees along with four other partners.

Julie Araujo, who has more than 15 years of experience reviewing, negotiating, drafting and litigating complex commercial contracts; Brian Comarda, who focuses on construction litigation and arbitration; Beau LeBlanc, who focuses on complex commercial litigation, construction-related dispute resolution and general contract advice, as well as admiralty and insurance litigation; and James Prescott III, who handles land, offshore and vessel construction disputes, construction contract negotiation, government contracting, insurance and complex commercial disputes, have also joined Gordon Rees.

Counsel Allison Colon and three associates from Bland’s firm have also joined Gordon Rees’ New Orleans office. The Bland team will be bringing its clients as well, Cominos said, noting that before Gordon Rees management finalized the acquisition it reviewed carefully the hourly rates and realizations of its new hires.

With all its new office openings, Gordon Rees has added more than 40 lawyers to its head count this year.

“Every lateral hire is a new learning experience, it gives us new information to build from,” Cominos said. ”You learn from your mistakes, and we’ve gotten better at predicting the kind of businesses and groups that will succeed within our firm.”

Cominos added that his firm no longer takes on “exotic practices,” since that has turned out badly in the past. But Bland’s practice fits right in with Gordon Rees’ core focus, he said.