Saiber, a midsized New Jersey litigation firm, announced Thursday that it will merge with transactional boutique Marcus, Brody, Ford & Kessler, effective Jan. 1.
Seven attorneys and eight staff from the Roseland firm will move to Saiber’s Florham Park headquarters on Jan. 11.
The move brings Saiber’s transactional attorneys to 11, from five, and pushes its total lawyer ranks to 64.
Saiber managing partner William Maderer says the firms have long had a referring relationship. The partners began discussing a deal early this year as Marcus Brody eyed the end of its lease, which is 11 months from now.
“I think we’ve always been open to either growing through lateral [hires] or through a merger partner,” says Marcus Brody managing partner Jane Brody.
Business litigation has accounted for about 80 percent of Saiber’s business, while Marcus Brody has concentrated heavily on transactional work.
Brody says her firm represents many banks and closely held businesses with litigation needs that until now have been farmed out. With Saiber, those needs can be met in house.
Neither Maderer nor Brody would discuss firm financials, but Maderer says the move makes business sense. “If they weren’t the right people, the business won’t matter,” he says. “You need both ends of it.”
Making the move with Brody are partners Ira Marcus, Herbert Ford and Andrew Kessler, as well as counsel Denise Walsh, associates Jeffrey DiChiara and John Losinger, four paralegals and four secretaries.
Besides the influx of transactional lawyers, Kessler brings expertise in real estate tax appeals, which Saiber only dabbled in previously, Maderer says.
Partner Mary Jane Dobbs isn’t coming because Saiber doesn’t have a family law practice. She’s going to Bressler, Amery & Ross, also in Florham Park.
Saiber ranked 34th in the Law Journal’s most recent survey of top-earning New Jersey firms, with $25.4 million in gross revenues and $454,000 in revenue per lawyer in fiscal year 2012.
The seven Marcus Brody attorneys could add $3 million in revenue, which would bump Saiber up to about $28.5 million. That would situate it between Capehart & Scatchard in Mount Laurel ($30 million) and K&L Gates’ Newark office ($28.3 million).
Saiber’s postacquisition head count of 64 lawyers, up from 57, would make it the 30th-most populous firm in the state.
Saiber was formed in 1950 and rostered just seven attorneys when Maderer joined the firm in 1980.
The addition of Marcus Brody is Saiber’s biggest move since taking on a five-lawyer insurance-litigation group from Whippany’s Schwartz, Simon, Edelstein & Celso in June 2009.
At that time, Saiber, which called Newark home for four decades, had announced it was moving its main office to the current Florham Park location: a 54,000-square-foot space on Columbia Turnpike that, according to Maderer, still has some room for growth.
The firm has maintained a small Newark office—five patent-litigation attorneys who spend significant time in federal court there.
Marcus Brody got its start in 1994, when Brody and Charles Dunetz formed Dunetz & Brody in Livingston, joined in 1997 by Ira Marcus. Marcus came from Hannoch Weisman in Roseland, which was on track to dissolve two years later after once being the state’s second-largest firm, thanks to a 1988 merger with Trenton’s Sterns, Herbert, Weinroth & Petrino.
Brody says the firm fared well throughout the downturn in M&As after the 2008 recession and kept its headcount stable. “We’ve been very fortunate,” she says. “We’ve always been more busy than not.”