New York Skyline (OscarUrdaneta/Wikimedia)
Richard Friedman, a founding partner and former longtime head of New York’s Sichenzia Ross Friedman Ference, has left the firm to join Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.
Los Angeles-based Sheppard Mullin announced Thursday that Friedman had agreed to join the firm’s New York office along with Sichenzia Ross corporate partners Andrea Cataneo, Stephen Cohen and Jeffrey Fessler. In a phone conversation Thursday, Friedman said the move had been in the works for some time, but admitted that parting with his former colleagues has been hard.
“We built [Sichenzia Ross] into one of the best securities boutiques in the country,” said Friedman of the firm he co-founded in 1998. “This was not a quick move, but the opportunity and platform provided by Sheppard Mullin was one I couldn’t turn down.”
Friedman declined to discuss whether he used a legal recruiter in making the jump to Sheppard Mullin. He did note that Fessler, who is joining him at the firm, once worked as an associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe with Shon Glusky, a corporate partner who joined Sheppard Mullin’s New York office in 2011 and now serves as co-head of the firm’s corporate department.
The Sichenzia Ross team headed to Sheppard Mullin specializes in securities filings and reporting, finance and transactional work and has some health care and life sciences expertise through Fessler, Friedman said. Cataneo, who handles private equity finance matters for microcap companies, saw her New Jersey home serve as her former firm’s small outpost in the Garden State. In a statement, Sichenzia Ross name partner Michael Ference thanked his former partners for their service.
“We have anticipated their transition for some time and wish our former colleagues well in their new endeavor,” said Ference, chair of the firm’s executive committee. “More importantly, we are very excited about the direction our firm is headed and look forward to continuing to provide our clients with the exceptional level of service and professionalism they have come to expect during our 18-year history as a leading firm in the corporate and securities industry.”
Friedman said he spent 16 of his 18 years at Sichenzia Ross as the firm’s managing partner, with Fessler, who joined the firm in 2004 from Sills Cummis & Gross, filling in as leader for the other two years. In 2015, Friedman said that Sichenzia Ross corporate partner Thomas Rose took over as managing partner. Asked about the firm’s future, Friedman said Sichenzia Ross has long been “fiercely independent,” and noted that its current leadership is strong. He acknowledged the firm would have to change its name as a result of his departure.
Sichenzia Ross specializes in securities work, handling both corporate and litigation matters. In 2007, the firm moved from midtown Manhattan to a new headquarters in the city’s financial district. Last year Sichenzia Ross formed an alliance with Israel’s Doron, Tikotzky, Kantor, Gutman, Cederboum & Co. near Tel Aviv. (Partnerships between U.S. and Israeli firms, as recently noted by affiliate Law.com, could become increasingly common.)
An alliance announced in January 2015 between Sichenzia Ross and the Budapest-based Fábry Law Office no longer appears on the New York firm’s website, which as of Thursday listed 39 lawyers, not including the four Sheppard Mullin defectors.
Sichenzia Ross is also one of a few notable firms that has counseled clients operating in the legal cannabis sector. The American Lawyer reported last year on Sichenzia Ross acquiring shares in a struggling medical marijuana dispensary called MedBox Inc. Friedman, who has spoken before industry trade groups, once served as managing editor of a publication called the CannaBiz Report. He said that most of the work he did in the space was at the behest of Sichenzia Ross name partner Marc Ross, who has taught a course on legal issues related to marijuana at Hofstra University, his alma mater. (Ross will speak later this month at a cannabis conference in Portland, Maine.)
Sichenzia Ross also remains active in the startup space, and the firm is frequently hired as corporate and securities counsel by holding companies or other entities going through the process of becoming publicly traded companies. Sichenzia Ross has appeared at the top of league table rankings as issuer counsel for private investment in public equity (PIPE) transactions.
As for Sheppard Mullin, the firm’s New York office in Rockefeller Center opened in 2004. The addition of the four-partner team from Sichenzia Ross brings Sheppard Mullin to more than 90 lawyers in the Big Apple. The firm saw IP litigation partner Michael Solomita leave last month for Chadbourne & Parke. Gina Reif Ilardi, who served as co-leader of Sheppard Mullin’s advertising industry group, also left its New York office earlier this year for Jenner & Block.
Gross revenue at Sheppard Mullin surged nearly 10 percent in 2015, to $559.5 million, while profits per partner at the 606-lawyer firm rose almost 6 percent, to $1.45 million, as noted by sibling publication The Recorder.