Cozen O’Connor has opened an office in Minneapolis with eight transactional and commercial litigation attorneys from Chicago-based Hinshaw & Culbertson.

Thomas Wallrich, Steven Silton, Thomas Kane, Peter Crema, Nadia Hasan, Heather Marx, Joel Nesset and Kristi Zentner are leaving the 475-lawyer Hinshaw & Culbertson to join 510-lawyer Cozen as partners. Wallrich, Silton, Kane, Marx, Crema and Hasan were partners at Hinshaw & Culbertson, while the other attorneys were associates.

In a statement announcing the acquisition, Cozen cited Minneapolis’ Midwest location between Chicago and Seattle as an attractive addition to its geographic footprint. The firm already has offices in Chicago and Seattle.

"Cozen O’Connor has a history of growing opportunistically, adding to our strengths when we spot a great opportunity, and the addition of this group is consistent with this approach," Cozen O’Connor Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Heller said in a statement. "This group will help to quickly establish Cozen O’Connor as a presence in the Minneapolis area. Minneapolis is a primary business center between Chicago and Seattle, and is a major U.S. economic hub. The Minneapolis-St. Paul region serves as the headquarters for numerous Fortune 1000 corporations and some of the country’s largest private companies."

Cozen’s entry into Minneapolis marks the first Pennsylvania-based law firm to open a location in the city. DLA Piper and national labor and employment boutique Littler Mendelson are the only other firms with a presence in both Minneapolis and Pennsylvania. Other large, national firms in Minneapolis include labor and employment boutiques Jackson Lewis and Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, IP boutique Fish & Richardson and general services firms Dykema Gossett, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright and Kutak Rock.

Cozen wasn’t looking to open a Minneapolis office, but when the opportunity to add the Hinshaw & Culberston group came up in a market that turned out to be what the firm viewed as a strong commercial center, the firm jumped at it. Heller said in an interview he thinks more firms are going to start taking a look at the business and legal opportunities in Minneapolis. He said the Minneapolis-St.Paul region is the second-largest economy in the Midwest after Chicago.

"Minneapolis is one of the great business cities," Heller said.

Heller said it was a mutual client that connected the Hinshaw & Culbertson group with Cozen. He said the Hinshaw & Culbertson team will bring a number of new clients to the firm and will help service existing Cozen matters in Minneapolis. Heller said the firm has a large amount of litigation matters it is handling in Minneapolis for which it currently has to use local counsel. Those matters can now be managed more efficiently in-house, he said.

This isn’t the first time this year Cozen has jumped at opportunities to grab lateral partners. In March, the firm grabbed six partners from Edwards Wildman to open a West Palm Beach, Fla., location. It has also added a number of laterals across several offices since the start of the year. While focused on hiring, Cozen has also seen a number of defections in 2013. The largest defection was the departure of eight partners from the Philadelphia office to start up an office in the city for San Francisco-based Gordon & Rees.

At Cozen’s new Minneapolis locale, Wallrich will serve as the managing partner. His practice is focused on commercial transactions, banking, bankruptcy, real estate finance and development and commercial litigation. Silton, who will serve on Cozen’s board of directors, focuses his practice on sales and purchases of businesses, financing, securities placements and related work for mid-sized corporations, banks, credit unions, financial groups and professional athletes and sports franchises.

Cozen just missed the Am Law 100 this year, dropping one spot to 101st on the Am Law 200 despite a 5.6 percent rise in gross revenue in 2012 to $310.5 million.

Hinshaw & Culbertson fell three spots down the Am Law 200 to 137th, with a 1.2 percent rise in gross revenue to $207.5 million. Cozen’s profits per equity partner (PPP) rose 8.4 percent in 2012 to $710,000, while Hinshaw & Culbertson’s PPP dipped 1.9 percent to $530,000. Cozen’s revenue per lawyer (RPL) grew 4.3 percent in 2012 to $610,000, while Hinshaw & Culbertson’s RPL remained flat at $435,000.

A call to Hinshaw & Culbertson was not returned by press time.

Gina Passarella can be contacted at 215-557-2494 or at gpassarella@alm.com. Follow her on Twitter @GPassarellaTLI.