Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney is set to open an office in Charlotte, N.C., this month, with the addition of three banking and finance lawyers.
Shareholder Mike Wielechowski, counsel Nathan Fuller and associate Kerri DeRuyter have joined Buchanan Ingersoll, which is currently looking for office space in uptown Charlotte with the goal of opening the outpost there within the next two weeks.
The three lawyers are joining Buchanan Ingersoll from Charlotte-based Kirk Palmer & Thigpen. Their departures would leave the 11-lawyer firm with eight attorneys.
“Establishing an office in Charlotte has been part of the firm’s strategic plan for some time,” Buchanan Ingersoll CEO and managing shareholder Jack Barbour said in a statement.
“With major clients in the financial services sector, we have been looking for the right team to run an office in Charlotte, and Mike was the perfect choice to lead that team at the right time.”
Wielechowski is not unfamiliar with his new firm’s home base. He moved from Pittsburgh to Charlotte seven years ago after working in-house for PNC Bank.
And Buchanan Ingersoll is not the first Pittsburgh-based law firm Wielechowski has hung his hat. Before going in-house, he worked at Thorp Reed & Armstrong and what is now K&L Gates. He will run the new office for Buchanan Ingersoll and said in a statement that he plans to double the number of lawyers there within the next year.
Barbour said in an interview Friday that Buchanan Ingersoll knew Wielechowski from his time at PNC because PNC leads the firm’s bank loan facility and Wielechowski would document that facility from time to time for the firm.
When Buchanan Ingersoll began thinking of opening a Charlotte office about a year ago, Barbour said, some of the firm’s lawyers knew of Wielechowski and talks began from there.
Barbour said Wielechowski and Buchanan Ingersoll share some clients and he also brings new clients to the firm. Barbour said the move would be accretive.
Wielechowski handles syndicated loans, mid-market deals and bilateral deals for clients in the financial services industry, including PNC Bank and Fifth Third Bank. His primary areas of practice are finance, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, general corporate representation and corporate compliance. His finance practice focuses on representing financial institutions, funds and other lenders concerning all aspects of secured and unsecured loan products to large corporate, middle market and private banking clients.
Barbour said Buchanan Ingersoll now has increased business opportunities with new and existing clients in Charlotte because it is opening there.
Charlotte’s financial center has drawn a number of the country’s law firms to open locations in the city. Others have gone to the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina.
Several of Pennsylvania’s 100 largest firms have North Carolina offices.
Cozen O’Connor, K&L Gates, Dechert, Dickie McCamey & Chilcote, Littler Mendelson, DLA Piper and McGuireWoods all have offices in either Charlotte or the Research Triangle. Insurance boutique Nelson Levine de Luca & Hamilton took a slightly different route, opening last month in Greensboro, N.C.
Barbour said he is looking to expand the firm’s corporate and litigation practices into Charlotte as well as the firm’s intellectual property work. Barbour acknowledged IP work in North Carolina is more traditionally practiced in Research Park. He said the firm would look to handle that work out of Charlotte for now, but may have to eventually open an office in Research Park if client demand requires it.
Along with Wielechowski, Fuller practices in the areas of commercial finance, commercial real estate, mergers and acquisitions and general corporate law. He focuses primarily on representing administrative agents, lenders and borrowers in single bank and syndicated commercial finance transactions, and he has experience in leveraged health care finance. Fuller had joined Kirk Palmer in 2012. Prior to that he had worked at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and Kilpatrick Stockton.
DeRuyter focuses primarily on representing and counseling financial institutions, funds and other lenders concerning all aspects of secured and unsecured loan products. Among other firms in Charlotte, DeRuyter spent time in the Charlotte office of Dechert.