New York City Photo: Shutterstock.com

LeClairRyan’s lateral partner diaspora continues to grow, as partner Frank Cerza joins Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith in New York City.

Cerza, who was a leader of LeClairRyan’s Italian cross-border business and economic development practices, joined Los Angeles-based Lewis Brisbois as a partner in its corporate department.

“Lewis Brisbois has one of the fastest growing corporate practices in the country,” Cerza said in a statement to ALM. “Joining now offers me a chance to both grow my own practice and also work with a national team on big and interesting transactions.”

Cerza specializes in corporate and real estate business transactions and commercial finance, representing American and Italian companies and individuals in transactions spanning Italy and the U.S.

“Our corporate and business services practices have been rapidly expanding in markets across the country, and the addition of Mr. Cerza to this team helps cement our foothold in the New York Metro area, which is a critical market for these practices,” a Lewis Brisbois spokesman said in a statement.

Cerza joined LeClairRyan from Carlton Fields in 2017 as a partner in its business and corporate services, real estate and international law practices. In early 2018, he was tapped to lead the firm’s new economic development team, which works to help clients build or expand their presence stateside.

Cerza’s departure makes him the latest lateral exit from LeClairRyan, which has lost nearly 50 attorneys since the beginning of the year.

“My decision to leave LeClairRyan was not motivated by other people’s choices,” Cerza said, noting that it was a personal decision for his own professional development.

“LeClairRyan has a great team and I wish them well,” Cerza said.

LeClairRyan’s gross revenue fell to $122 million last year, marking the fourth-straight year of revenue declines, according to figures submitted by the firm for The American Lawyer’s annual law firm financial rankings.

Attorney head court at the firm, which was founded two decades ago in Richmond, Virginia, slid to 273 lawyers in 2018. Its equity partner ranks contracted by 27.4 percent, down to 90 partners from 124 the prior year.

The firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cerza’s departure. LeClairRyan has previously suggested that some recent departures were related to firm’s evolving strategic direction, which has included a focus on certain practice areas and a joint venture with a major alternative legal services provider, UnitedLex.

As for Lewis Brisbois, Cerza’s addition comes at a time of rapid expansion for the Am Law 100 firm. The firm opened its 50th office nationwide in Savannah, Georgia, and its sixth since the start of 2019, including a pair of offices in downtown St. Louis and in Washington, D.C.

“Lewis Brisbois identified key practice areas in specific regions and markets where there was a substantial demand from existing clients to grow, as well as robust opportunities to develop new relationships and increase our national footprint,” a Lewis Brisbois spokesman said.

“Lewis Brisbois has been successful in this strategy and with the firm’s 40th anniversary coming up in April, you can expect more growth in 2019.”

Read More

LeClairRyan Creates New Leadership Role as Declines Continue

LeClairRyan Names New Practice Leaders as Revenue and Head Count Slide