Jorden Burt, a class action defense boutique with an office in Simsbury, is merging with a larger international litigation firm.
Part of the combined firm’s plan is to expand its Connecticut presence.
The merger to be completed by the end of the year between 70-lawyer Jorden Burt and Carlton Fields will create a new 370-lawyer firm called Carlton Fields Jorden Burt. With its headquarters in Tampa, one of the new firm’s 10 offices will be moving from Simsbury to Hartford.
Other offices will be in Miami, Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C.
The reason the firm’s Connecticut office is moving to downtown Hartford, said Jim Jorden, the managing partner of Jorden Burt, is to make room for growth. Jorden, who will serve on the executive committee of the new firm, said areas they are seeing “enormous growth” potential in health care industry representations.
Lawyers from Carlton Fields and Jordon Burt also represent clients in class action defense and in the financial services industry.
“We like Connecticut, because there are a lot of very good lawyers there,” Jorden said by telephone from the firm’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. Since 2005, Jorden said, the Connecticut office has grown from two lawyers to 18. “We went into Connecticut, because there were a number of lawyers there we wanted to hire, and they wanted to stay there,” he said. “The reason we went to Simsbury, quite frankly, was that it was” close to the homes of the attorneys who were hired.
But the Connecticut-based litigators do most of their work out of the state. “We spend a lot of time on airplanes,” Jorden said.
Even though the firm does much of its business in cities outside of Connecticut, Jorden said the legal talent in the state makes it an ideal location for growth. Moving to Hartford will give the combined firm a central location in the state, which will make it more convenient for lateral hires they anticipate adding in coming years.
The current Jorden Burt legal team has been built up by hiring experienced partners with in house backgrounds from law firms and insurance and financial services companies. For example, Connecticut partner Bert Helfand, who represents property and casualty insurers in complex litigation, previously worked as assistant general counsel at The Hartford.
Another Connecticut based partner, Diane Duhaime, worked earlier in her career as counsel for The Travelers insurance company. “We look to bring in like-minded people, and if you walked around in our office, you’d really see that,” Jorden said.
Although Jorden currently serves as manager of the Simsbury office, he plans on designating a Connecticut partner to serve as managing partner.
Executives from both firms said the merger will build on the strengths of each. “Both of our firms have strong national practices in class action defense and high-stakes litigation,” said Gary Sasso, CEO of Carlton Fields, who will continue as CEO of the combined firm. “We see this as an opportunity to match strength with strength, putting together highly capable professionals who like and respect each other.”
Jorden said the firm looked at other options before deciding to join Carlton Fields. “We concluded that Carlton Fields offers a unique combination of talent, platform, practices, values and philosophy,” he said. “We are like-minded in every important way. By joining together, both our firms gain a great deal.”