Groups of attorneys from three local midsize law firms have spun off and combined to create Bardsley, Benedict + Cholden, a new Philadelphia-based firm with plans for offices across the region.
Steven Bardsley joined from Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas; Andrew Benedict from Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby; and Steve Cholden from Reilly, McDevitt, & Henrich.
“I don’t think any of us were unhappy at our old firms,” Benedict said, but the group was looking to create “something different and more modern than what our former firms were doing.”
Because the firm is launching from scratch, he said, it’s not weighed down by outdated technology. Bardsley also noted that the firm lacks the overhead created by partner retirements. The technological efficiencies and lower overhead will play out in fee arrangements, the founders said, in a time when more of their clients are asking for litigation budgets.
“We’re able to be complete with a clean slate and provide our clients with opportunities they may not have had when we were at our other places,” Cholden said.
Each of the three name partners is bringing lawyers from his former firm. Bardsley said the new firm’s lawyer head count should be 15 or 16 by the end of the week.
“We’re fortunate to pick the cream of the crop from our respective firms,” he said. “Everybody wants to transition responsibility from their former firm.”
The lawyers are bringing clients with them from their former firms, with relationships that run the spectrum from mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, Cholden said. The new firm’s clients include insurance companies as well.
Bardsley’s practice focuses on construction litigation, while Benedict and Cholden have general litigation practices. But the founders said they hope to build up a full-service firm over time, including transactional work.
The firm’s website currently lists 11 lawyers, including the three name partners. The others are Thomas Geroulo, Sharon Piper, Joanne Rubinsohn and Douglas Rhoads from Weber Gallagher; Pam Devine and Sean Ryan from Hoagland Longo; George Reynolds from Powell Trachtman; and H. Carton Rogers IV from Reilly McDevitt.
After this week, the firm is planning additional lateral hires, the founders said, and some potential laterals have already reached out. The firm has set up offices in Philadelphia and Malvern, and will soon be in South New Jersey, they said, and there are also locations in Scranton and Pittsburgh in the works.
Weber Gallagher chair Paul Fires said the group of five leaving his firm is “not a big loss,” though he acknowledged that the departing lawyers are taking their clients with them. He said Benedict and the others left a practice that remains strong.
“This isn’t the first individual who left us, he may not be the last,” Fires said, also noting that Weber Gallagher is always looking for growth opportunities, particularly in general liability, medical malpractice, transportation and retail. The firm also lost a partner last week to Chicago-based Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney.
Vincent Reilly, managing partner of Reilly McDevitt, said “we’ll be just fine,” and he wishes Cholden luck. Cholden is the second name partner to leave the firm in recent weeks, after Lee Janiczek joined Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith.
Asked whether the departures related to a change in direction at the firm, Reilly said he would rather not discuss the firm’s direction. He said Reilly McDevitt is hiring in all three of its offices— Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Wilmington, Delaware.
Hoagland Longo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.