(l-r) Thomas Giotto, Eugene Giotto, and Jeremiah Garvey, of Cozen O'Connor's new Pittsburgh office.
(l-r) Thomas Giotto, Eugene Giotto, and Jeremiah Garvey, of Cozen O’Connor’s new Pittsburgh office. (Courtesy photos)

Cozen O’Connor is expanding into western Pennsylvania, opening an office in Pittsburgh with three partners from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

Partners Thomas Giotto, Jeremy Garvey and Gene Giotto have joined the firm, Cozen O’Connor announced Wednesday, with additional lawyers expected to join them in the new Pittsburgh office in the near future.

In addition to the three Pittsburgh partners, Buchanan Ingersoll confirmed Wednesday afternoon that 14 other lawyers are leaving for Cozen O’Connor. They include four more lawyers in Pittsburgh, nine in Philadelphia and one in Wilmington, Delaware. Most are from Buchanan Ingersoll’s labor and employment practice.

A spokeswoman for Cozen O’Connor said she could not confirm the additional hires.

Discussing the initial Pittsburgh hires, Cozen O’Connor CEO Michael Heller said the firm has been seeking entry to the Pittsburgh market for about three years, amid a “renaissance” driven by the city’s education, medical and technology industries.

“I’m very bullish on the Pittsburgh market,” he said. “It really took until now to find the right group of folks we thought could really lead the effort to build a large, full-service office in Pittsburgh.”

All three of the Buchanan Ingersoll partners were leaders within their practice groups. Thomas Giotto was chairman of the labor and employment practice, Garvey was co-chair of the corporate practice, and Gene Giotto was co-chair of the post-acute and long-term care practice. Thomas Giotto will lead Cozen O’Connor’s labor and employment practice with Joseph Tilson, in Chicago, who joined the firm through its acquisition of Meckler Bulger Tilson Marick & Pearson in 2015.

Thomas Giotto said he was attracted by the opportunity to build out a national labor and employment practice. He and Gene Giotto, his brother, became part of Buchanan Ingersoll when it merged with Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling in 2006.

Thomas Giotto noted that more firms seem interested in entering the Pittsburgh market recently. The city has gone from a manufacturing and industrial center to a “technology hotbed,” he said, while the energy sector is likely to create further opportunities in the city.

The new office allows Cozen O’Connor to continue its geographic expansion, while growing its labor and employment department, Heller said. The firm now has four offices across Pennsylvania, including its largest office in Philadelphia.

Cozen O’Connor has grown in various markets over the past few years, including with the addition of the Meckler Bulger lawyers. The firm also acquired 14 lawyers from Feldman Gale, a Miami-based IP boutique, in June. In its announcement of the Pittsburgh office, Cozen O’Connor also pointed out its 10 hires from Dickstein Shapiro and 10 from Pepper Hamilton in the past two years.

In a recent interview with The Legal, Heller said Cozen O’Connor was seeking to expand in the Midwest, in the region’s “great middle-market cities.” The firm has grown steadily in recent years, and boosted its gross revenue by 10 percent in 2016, with head count reaching 563 lawyers.

In a statement about the partners’ move to Cozen O’Connor, Buchanan Ingersoll CEO Joseph Dougherty said his firm is well prepared for the departures and noted that it had its best financial year ever in 2016.

“Departures in the legal world happen. Players come and go but it’s the culture and values of a firm that endure,” Dougherty said. “While most of these attorneys are from our labor and employment section, strong assets and core shareholders remain as part of the 50-attorney practice group who can meet any of our clients’ needs.”