Mid-Atlantic midsize firm Offit Kurman has added to its New York presence for the second time this year, affiliating with 12-lawyer Menaker & Herrmann.
Ted Offit, chairman of Offit Kurman, said the agreement includes employment offers to all lawyers and staff of Menaker & Herrmann, as well as its office space at 40th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. The deal is set to take effect April 30.
Offit said the firm will be 160 lawyers once the affiliation is final, and the Menaker & Herrmann group will grow the firm’s business by about 10 percent. While Offit did not describe the deal as a merger, all of the smaller firm’s lawyers and staff will become part of Offit Kurman, and Menaker & Herrmann will no longer exist as an entity.
The addition brings Offit Kurman, which was founded in Baltimore, to 20 lawyers in New York City, including eight it hired from now-dissolved Eaton & Van Winkle earlier this year. The firm also had three lawyers in Iselin, New Jersey, before this year, bringing its total attorney head count in the New York region to 23.
“We’re actively recruiting, trying to build the size of the New York office,” Offit said. “It’ll be Manhattan-plus,” he noted, referring to potential expansion in Northern New Jersey and West Chester, New York, as well.
The firm has employed a regional expansion focus, which has been successful in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia areas.
“We want to be one of the larger firms serving the privately held marketplace,” Offit said. “If we do it right, we’ll be able to add real quality service at a better price.”
Menaker & Herrmann has a full-service practice, Offit said, with a special emphasis on construction, including representation of architects and engineers, as well as financial services litigation and other high-end litigation. The latter includes the firm’s representation of the trustee in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy.
“Construction has been our fastest-growing practice area,” Offit said, noting several hires in the firm’s suburban Philadelphia location last year. “We know contractors are the types of clients that use Offit Kurman.”
Firm founder Richard Menaker said he has been approached with a number of merger, acquisition and affiliation opportunities over his firm’s 35-year history, but he’s never been interested until Offit Kurman’s proposal came along.
“It encompassed taking our entire staff and lawyers. There was no cherry-picking,” Menaker said. “In the past firms had expressed interest in taking only our senior lawyers.”
While Menaker & Herrmann ultimately chose to join forces with a larger firm, Menaker said it wasn’t a matter of size. He said there continues to be room for small law firms in the New York market.
The firms are in the process of transferring client engagements, Offit said, and have not yet come across any unworkable conflict issues. They have similar rate structures, Menaker said.
Offit said his firm got connected with Menaker & Herrmann in mid-2017 through legal recruiter Carol Hayden. The talks with Menaker & Herrmann were ongoing at the same time as Offit Kurman’s talks with Eaton & Van Winkle.
That affiliation, after being announced earlier this year, ultimately fell apart, though some of Eaton & Van Winkle’s lawyers still joined Offit Kurman. Eaton & Van Winkle has since ceased practicing law.
“The disappointing aspect of Eaton & Van Winkle is that we didn’t wind up with their facilities lease,” Offit said. But the firm later learned it would be able to lease an additional floor in the building where Menaker & Herrmann operated.
“We’re fortunate that they had room for us there to take another floor. … If not, I don’t know what we would have done,” Offit said.