The civil litigation boutique that Simon Bloom started almost 11 years ago has changed its name from Bloom Sugarman to Bloom Parham, prompted by the departure of former managing partner F. Skip Sugarman, who has started his own shop, called Sugarman Law.
Stephen Parham, whose practice includes general business, real estate and tort litigation, is the firm’s new managing partner.
“I practiced with Simon for 10 years,” Sugarman said. “We were very successful and did the best legal work I had ever done in my career. Steve Parham is a phenomenal lawyer, and he will make an excellent managing partner.”
Parham will handle administrative operations for the 11-lawyer boutique, assisted by the firm’s executive director, Lainey McLellan, while Bloom will focus on client development, big-picture strategy and major litigation, he said.
Parham joined in 2011 from SunTrust Bank, where he spent a year as an assistant general counsel. Before that, he’d been a partner at Balch & Bingham. In addition to his litigation practice, he serves as outside general counsel to True North Cos., a developer and builder for the charter school industry, and Modality Solutions, which provides “cold-chain logistics” transport for bio-pharmaceuticals.
Sugarman, who spent a decade at Bloom’s firm, said that, as his 49th birthday approached, he decided it was time to do something a little different.
“I envision a firm that is a departure from a traditional law firm,” said Sugarman, who handles fiduciary, employment and partnership disputes for corporate clients, individual executives and professionals—as well as trusts and estates matters.
He’s brought on two lawyers who’d taken a hiatus to raise children—his wife, Marisa Sugarman, and Shara Sanders, both employment lawyers.
The aim is a “more collaborative, communal environment,” in an “alternative, creative space,” that is culturally more like a start-up company than a traditional law firm, with flexible schedules and no dress code except for client visits, Sugarman said.
Converted warehouse space on the Beltline is one things he’s considering, as Sugarman Law makes its temporary home in the new WeWork space at Colony Square at 1175 Peachtree St. N.E.
“When you visit these spaces, you see people together more, while in a traditional firm lawyers tend to retreat to their offices,” Sugarman said. “I historically was the biggest offender of that,” he added. “We’re even going to try to stay away from assigned offices.”
Evolution Beyond Real Estate
Bloom left Powell Goldstein (now part of Bryan Cave) in March 2007 to start his own shop defending developers and builders in real estate litigation.
His timing was prescient—right before the 2008 collapse of the housing market, which left plenty of developers and builders owing banks money they couldn’t pay.
Bloom said that, from 2008 to 2013, the firm litigated $1.2 billion of personally guaranteed debt, representing debtors and guarantors being sued by their banks.
“We represent 10 of the 12 national home-builders that do business in Georgia—which was a goal of mine,” he said.
Bloom started the firm with Stephanie Everett, a Powell Goldstein associate who became his partner. Initially the Bloom Firm, it became Bloom Sugarman Everett in 2012 and then Bloom Sugarman in 2015 when Everett left to become a law firm consultant and executive director of Lawyers for Equal Justice, an innovative incubator for new lawyers backed by the State Bar of Georgia and the state’s five law firms.
As real estate litigation abated around 2013, Bloom said, the firm started cultivating corporate clients with big business disputes.
“We are catering to the more sophisticated consumer of litigation services that values real trial experience and appreciates the difference between a trial lawyer and a litigator,” he said.
“You don’t hire Bloom Parham to defend the Equifax litigation, with however-many hundreds of class actions. It’s a monster, and it’s never going to trial,” Bloom added. “But if you’ve got a five-to-ten million, bet-the-small-company type of partnership or commercial dispute on the line, you want someone who can take that case to trial and win it.”
In one recent and complicated case, Bloom and colleague Troy Covington won a $900,000 international arbitration award for defamation on behalf of Norcross-based client OA Development from an Israeli company called Profimex—a onetime business partner of OAD that started the dispute in 2014 with a breach of contract action.
Last fall, Bloom, with Sugarman, Shannan Oliver and Adam Nugent, prevailed for another client, CentraArchy Restaurant Management Co., blocking a putative class action against three of its California Dreaming restaurants by South Carolina waitresses who did not want to tip out to their bartenders.
Other corporate clients include Strategic Properties and race-car builder DeltaWing Technologies.