David Scherl of Morrison Cohen
David Scherl of Morrison Cohen ()

Stephen Pierce first worked with Morrison Cohen in 1996, long before he became head of global equity capital markets at The Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Twenty years later, the 100-lawyer firm continues to work with Pierce and its representation of Goldman has stretched to include principal investing, prime brokerage, litigation and other areas. One thing remains constant.

“I don’t feel like I have worked with anybody more junior than a partner there,” Pierce said. “But I don’t feel like I’ve been charged that way.”

Utilizing a near 1-to-1 partner-to-associate ratio and billing rates that are as much as 30 percent less than its Big Law competition (partners bill between $500 and $650 an hour), Morrison Cohen has built a practice counseling middle-market businesses and some of New York’s major banks, including the likes of Goldman and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Last year the firm stayed hot, luring partners from Venable, McDermott Will & Emery and others.

“We’re working attorneys here, and that’s what we want to be. We like getting our hands dirty,” said partner Anthony Saur, who brought his emerging-company practice to the firm in January 2015 from Venable.

The firm’s litigation practice last year won a notable series of court victories that will allow client EPR Properties to build a casino development in upstate New York. Two partners and one associate worked on the case that could have cost EPR Properties $1.2 billion if it lost in court, said David Scharf, chairman of the real estate loan workouts, restructurings and foreclosures group.

Chairman and managing partner David Scherl, whose private-equity background has helped the firm secure more than five dozen private-equity firm clients, said the firm never wants to grow to more than 130 lawyers.

“We always have to keep ourselves in a position to maintain that model,” Scherl said. “Our model differentiation is staffing and pricing.”


Year founded: 1984
Headquarters: New York
Total attorneys: 101
Partners: 65
Associates: 32