Connecticut-based firm Robinson & Cole is starting the year off with a bang, opening new offices in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware, as part of an expansion of its bankruptcy business. The move includes the addition of five new lawyers, including three partners from Philadelphia with broad bankruptcy experience.

The firm has picked up Natalie D. Ramsey, Mark A. Fink and Davis Lee Wright, all formerly of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, to join as partners, along with attorneys Laurie A. Krepto, of counsel, and Katherine M. Fix, associate, in Philadelphia.

Robinson & Cole celebrates its new national bankruptcy team, including, top row: Davis Lee Wright, Katherine Fix, Mark Fink and Laurie Krepto; front row: managing partner Steve Goldman and Natalie Ramsey.

The move comes at a time when firms across the country are positioning themselves for a potential increase in bankruptcy business as a long period of economic growth is showing the potential for a slowdown, said Robinson & Cole managing partner Stephen E. Goldman, speaking from New York. “It’s a good practice to be adding when we may be headed for a recession or a downturn in the economy,” Goldman said, adding that bankruptcy attorneys “are doing very well” with or without that inevitability, and it makes sense for the firm to expand that practice into larger markets.

The new partners have already made their mark in bankruptcy practice, earning M&A Advisor awards for restructuring and energy deals of the year. Incoming partner Natalie Ramsey, a 34-year veteran at Montgomery McCracken, said she was proud to be coming to a firm with which she’s done quite a bit of work already. “I have been friendly with the bankruptcy team at Robinson & Cole and we have a terrific collaborative relationship,” Ramsey said. “For me personally this is really an invigorating and exciting opportunity, and quite a big change after many years at the same place, so I’m looking forward to growing and developing the practice in Philadelphia and Delaware in 2019.”

Goldman said exposure to larger financial markets has been part of the firm’s strategic plan for years. Coupled with rapid expansion in Robinson & Cole’s New York office to a current roster of some 34 attorneys, the bankruptcy play is “a real home run for us,” he said.

Improving the bankruptcy practice, Goldman added, will bring more strength to other practice areas. “This enables us to get stronger in representing clients, including private equity funds, buying stressed assets out of bankruptcy, and it enables us to get involved in large litigation that arises out of bankruptcy. It creates more work for our lawyers.”

Goldman said adding the particularly robust business litigation markets of Philadelphia and Wilmington will strengthen Robinson & Cole’s business footing.

Goldman explained that he is not rooting for an economic downturn, but acknowledged that markets are cyclical and that the law business, like any other, needs balance. “You need to be positioned in the event of an economic downturn. If your clients are all real-estate developers, you have a huge number of real-estate developers who are all killing it, and you’re doing all of your growth in real-estate development, you’re kind of exposed. If at the same time you build out your bankruptcy practice … when one goes down, that one goes up. It’s really good for us in this instance because these people are doing really well now, and they’ll be doing that much better if there is a recession. This is not people who are just limping along.”

Ramsey’s three-plus decades in bankruptcy and corporate reorganizations precede her move into a partnership position at Robinson & Cole. She is a fellow in the American College of Bankruptcy and has been a Top 50 Super Lawyer for Philadelphia several times. She will work out of both the Wilmington and Philadelphia offices, but said she expected to travel to New York and Connecticut as part of the job. “I am extraordinarily impressed with Robinson & Cole’s lawyers, its collaborative approach, and its strong leadership,” she said.

Fink, who works in bankruptcy and restructuring, has assisted clients with the acquisition of distressed assets and has extensive experience representing creditors’ committees, debtors, special servicers, banks, indenture trustees, individual creditors and liquidating trustees in bankruptcy proceedings and out-of-court workouts. He will be in Robinson & Cole’s New York office.

Wright’s practice is focused on bankruptcy-related litigation. He has represented secured and unsecured creditors, committees, trustees and debtors in Chapter 7, 11 and 15 proceedings. He has represented companies in restructuring efforts, including out-of-court workouts, prepackaged bankruptcies and other reorganizations. He is a former law clerk for the former U.S. Bankruptcy Court Chief Judge Peter J. Walsh of the District of Delaware. He will be stationed in Wilmington.

Joining along with Ramsey, Fink, and Wright are Krepto, as a counsel, and Fix, as an associate. Krepto and Fix will work in Robinson & Cole’s new Philadelphia office.