Drinker Biddle & Reath. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

A newly formed litigation team has been formed with the migration of 17 attorneys from Carlton Fields to Philadelphia-based Drinker Biddle & Reath, which has opened a new Hartford location.

The Drinker Biddle Hartford location office includes new partners Stephen J. Jorden, Ben V. Seessel and Michael A. Valerio, with Jorden serving as the office’s regional partner in charge.

The new Drinker team of trial and class action lawyers increases the firm’s number of offices to 13. The new litigation team includes 14 new partners and three associates from Carlton Fields.

Jorden’s group has made its mark fending off class actions, with members serving as lead or co-lead counsel in more than 100 such cases. Jorden has been lead trial counsel in some 50 individual cases that went to trial in federal and state courts and has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and eight federal circuit courts.

“The arrival of Jim Jorden and his talented colleagues presents an enormous opportunity for our firm,” said Drinker Biddle chairman Andrew Kassner. “The continued expansion of our capabilities for insurance and financial services clients—one of our core sectors, and an area where Drinker Biddle differentiates itself from the competition—is one of our long time strategic objectives. Jim and his partners have an exceptional reputation for serving these key sectors with a national litigation practice that includes work in the capital markets space. This eminently qualified and sharply focused group moves our firm ahead, and everyone at Drinker Biddle looks forward to working with them.”

In addition to their trial, class action and appellate work, Jorden and his team represent clients before the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and other agencies.

Drinker Biddle’s national insurance litigation group, headed by partner Stephen Serfass, includes more than 50 lawyers representing major life, commercial, health care and other carriers; the firm also maintains a nationally recognized full-service ERISA practice. Serfass noted that the incoming group brings both new relationships and relationships with existing Drinker Biddle clients.

“Beyond their core insurance and regulatory expertise, our new partners have tremendous strength across many areas of litigation, including securities, capital markets, labor and employment, and ERISA actions,” Serfass said. “Their work crosses over into the regulated investment funds space, which will greatly complement our established platform in that area.” Serfass called Jorden “a franchise unto himself,” and noted the new group brings other all-stars to Drinker Biddle, including Josephine Cicchetti, who is known for her work on emerging securities and regulatory issues related to new products. Also joining in Washington is Frank Burt, who, with James Jorden, was formerly a named partner at the firm of Jorden Burt before it merged with Carlton Fields in 2014.

“We have long admired Drinker Biddle’s capabilities across the board, but particularly the firm’s work in insurance, ERISA counsel and financial institutions matters. Over the years, we have formed strong connections with Drinker Biddle’s formidable trial team,” Jorden said. “My colleagues and I are appreciative of the five great years we spent at Carlton Fields, but felt it was time to begin a new chapter.”

In Washington, D.C., the full roster of incoming partners includes Burt, Cicchetti, James F. Jorden, Roland C. Goss, W. Glenn Merten, Shaunda Patterson-Strachan, Brian P. Perryman, Waldemar J. Pflepsen Jr., Kristen Reilly, Kristin Ann Shepard and Dawn B. Williams.

The firm also plans to open a new office in Miami, in the near future to accommodate several members of the Jorden group.