Clockwise from top left: Jon Brooks, David Pellegrino, Jeremy Richardson and Marc Zimmerman (Courtesy photos)
In a burst of New York lateral activity involving two midsize firms, Los Angeles-based Michelman & Robinson announced it had hired a group of Manhattan partners from Phillips Nizer, which separately announced its own new hires and a lease signing this week.
Michelman, an 80-attorney firm that opened its New York office in 2009, said it added in the last several months IP litigator Jeremy Richardson; litigators Jon Brooks and David Pellegrino; and labor and employment lawyer Marc Zimmerman, all as partners, as well as litigator Kathryn Lundy as counsel. All five come from Phillips Nizer.
The Phillips Nizer group has about $3 million to $4 million in business, said Dana Kravetz, managing partner of Michelman, who added the firm is now talking with about 10 other attorneys in New York, including a small firm, for further hiring soon.
Separately, the firm added David Chidekel from Ritholz Levy Fields in May, and this month hired Peter Cifichiello as a corporate associate from Loeb & Loeb.
With the new hires, Michelman’s Manhattan office at 800 Third Ave. is now fully occupied with 22 attorneys, Kravetz said. The firm is scouting to secure a new office by early 2018 to accommodate its growth plans for about 35 attorneys in New York, he said.
Michelman grew substantially in Manhattan last year when it hired attorneys from the now closed firm Vandenberg & Feliu, a small New York general practice firm. Its founder, Raymond Vandenberg, is now Michelman’s New York office leader.
After the Vandenberg additions, Kravetz said the firm was seeking litigators to round out the office, leading him to talks with the Phillips Nizer group. “I wanted people who have advanced marketing skills and specific industry business,” Kravetz said.
Brooks focuses on commercial and business litigation as well as environmental disputes and transactional matters, representing real estate owners and developers, as well as manufacturing and chemical companies. His clients include Avis Budget Group and The Arker Cos., Joyland Group; and Meral Property Group, the Domain Cos. and Wythe & Kent Realty.
Pellegrino is a commercial litigator whose practice primarily focuses on real estate disputes. Zimmerman is a labor and employment lawyer with management and employer clients. Lundy is a commercial litigator, including in labor and employment and lawsuits arising out of the hospitality industry.
Brooks, who had been at Phillips Nizer for more than 12 years, said he was attracted to Michelman’s talent and the opportunity to be part of a firm growing in New York.
Marc Landis, managing partner of 60-attorney Phillips Nizer, said he wishes the attorneys well. Their departure “will have no effect” on the firm’s business, he said.
Phillips Nizer announced Thursday its own new partner hires, including Craig Penn, who was practicing at his own firm, two-attorney Penn & Associates, focused on litigation, arbitration, corporate, real estate, and licensing work. The firm also hired as a partner corporate attorney Carl Kleidman from Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp,
Meanwhile, the firm in recent weeks signed a 10-year lease at 485 Lexington Ave. for about 38,000 square feet, relocating from 666 Fifth Ave. The firm will occupy the 14th floor at 485 Lexington, owned by SL Green Realty Corp., between 46th and 47th streets.
While Phillips Nizer announced its new lease the same day Michelman announced its new hires, both firms said the timing was coincidental, and the moves were not related to the lease signing.
Landis declined to comment on the new lease terms. According to the New York Post, asking rents at 485 Lexington have been in the $70s and $80s per square foot range, while Kushner Cos. is seeking to redevelop the office tower at 666 Fifth Ave. with luxury condominiums and a large retail base.
In recent years, Phillips Nizer has explored merger talks, including with another New York midsize firm, Moses & Singer. Those talks have ended.
Landis said Thursday that his firm is not seeking or interested in any merger and would like to remain an independent midsize firm. “We often receive inquiries but we’re happy on the path we’ve charted,” he said.