When Robert Goldman, a former U.S. Attorney and adviser to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Art Crime Team, approached two large Philadelphia law firms about starting an art law practice 18 months ago, he had no takers. “They didn’t have room for this practice,” says Goldman, who spent 29 years with the government and assisted in the recovery of more than $150 million worth of stolen art. Then Goldman was introduced to Fox Rothschild, a 395-lawyer firm rapidly expanding from its Philadelphia base. There he met with a different response. “We’re always thinking: ‘What differentiates Fox Rothschild from our competitors?’ ” says co-chair Abraham Reich.
A lot, actually. Fox Rothschild is on a quiet march across the country with a business model that defies conventional wisdom. The firm wants to be a one-stop shop for the middle market, providing clients with a range of legal services at a reasonable price. So while other Am Law 200 firms frantically cull practice areas to increase profitability, Fox is collecting them. In the last four years, Fox has added seven new practice areas — including gaming, franchising, biotech and premises security — to bring its total to 40. It has picked up big-firm refugees practicing in such areas as immigration, environmental law and real estate; and it has gambled on opportunities, like Goldman’s fledgling art recovery practice, that may be outside the typical definition of “full-service.” Over the past five years the firm has almost doubled in gross revenue and head count, growing from 201 to 395 lawyers, and has improved its revenue per lawyer by almost 20 percent, to $483,000. It’s opened seven new offices, three of which are out West — a big move for a 100-year-old firm that a mere six years ago had a “one-hour drive” rule when adding an office. “What [we] have tried to do,” says co-chair Phillip Griffin, a corporate partner, “is to make it so that there is nothing that you should have to go somewhere else to find.” Adds litigator Reich: “To stand still is to move backward.”