Fox Rothschild is expanding its California family law practice with a new acquisition, marking its fourth merger this year.

The Philadelphia-based Am Law 100 firm has merged with five-lawyer Apex Family Law, the firms announced Monday. The combination went into effect Dec. 3. Raquel Sefton, Casey McNamara and Christopher “Craig” Bridwell joined Fox Rothschild as partners. Joining with them are associates Carlos Ramirez and Sarah Thompson, as well as five professional staff members.

Sefton, who was Apex Family Law’s managing partner, said her team had become large enough that it wanted the ability to collaborate with lawyers in trusts and estates, tax, corporate, and intellectual property practices.

“Being able to bring the practice to a large firm is really helpful for our clients,” Sefton said. “Also, it was very attractive to me as the person running the group to be able to take advantage of the economies of scale a larger firm would have.”

Raquel Sefton.

Sefton said she knew the lawyers in Fox Rothschild’s Los Angeles office before the merger. She had previously practiced at Sideman & Bancroft but left the regional firm to form Apex in 2013. Running the practice on its own allowed it to grow more broadly, she said, to the point where becoming part of a national firm seemed like the next logical step.

The opportunity to focus more on servicing clients than running a law firm became an attractive prospect too, Sefton said.

Fox Rothschild chairman Mark Silow said the addition is in-line with the firm’s strategy of growing in its existing offices while adding new locations as well. The firm opened its San Francisco office in 2006 and grew it in 2014 through another merger with six-partner MBV Law. Fox Rothschild now has over 30 lawyers there.

The Apex lawyers “have a very high-end family law practice. They serve a lot of entrepreneurs in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley market,” Silow said. “It goes along with another very high-end family law practice we have in Los Angeles that primarily services the entertainment industry.”

Silow said the family law group in Los Angeles has created opportunities for work in other practices, but that’s not the primary reason for combining with Apex.

Sefton said her practice is “geared toward individuals that have complicated balance sheets or complicated family law issues.” Her rates matched up with Fox Rothschild’s “absolutely perfectly,” she said, and her clients have all come along in the move.

“Sometimes family law practices can be challenging because of the rate structure, but because of the high-end nature of their practice it fit really well,” Silow said.

Fox Rothschild has completed four mergers this year, adding lawyers in the Carolinas, Georgia, Chicago, Delaware and Colorado. The largest of those four combinations, and the firm’s largest ever merger, was the acquisition of 130-lawyer Smith Moore Leatherwood, which went into effect Nov. 1.

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