Philadelphia-based Deeb Blum Murphy Frishberg & Markovich has split up, with four of the name partners and one associate joining Anderson Kill's Philadelphia office and a fifth name partner, along with another associate, joining Shook, Hardy & Bacon's Philadelphia office.
Partners Peter J. Deeb, Stephen H. Frishberg, Inez M. Markovich and Frank G. Murphy, along with associate Kevin G. McDonald, are set to join Anderson Kill on October 1.
The move appears to fall in line with a number of similar moves recently where larger firms have brought on the bulk of a smaller firm while avoiding a traditional merger or acquisition.
Partner Joseph H. Blum, meanwhile, is set to join Shook Hardy, along with associate Erin Loucks.
Two other former Deeb Blum attorneys won't be joining either firm. Mark N. Suprenant, who joined Deeb Blum as a partner in 2011 from Wawa Inc., where he was general counsel and corporate secretary, left the firm September 13, according to Frishberg.
In addition, associate Sona Kim left the firm September 3, Frishberg said.
Frishberg told The Legal on Tuesday that Deeb Blum had been working with a recruiter to find new hires when it was brought to the firm's attention that Anderson Kill was looking to expand its Philadelphia presence.
Recruiter Cathy B. Abelson confirmed that she was involved in bringing the two firms together.
According to Frishberg, he and his colleagues were initially unsure of what to expect when they agreed to meet with Anderson Kill's management, given that a significant portion of Anderson Kill's practice is insurance recovery, which Deeb Blum doesn't do.
However, Frishberg said, they were pleasantly surprised to find that Anderson Kill's practice extends well beyond insurance recovery to include commercial litigation, financial services, and trusts and estates work, all of which fit squarely within the Deeb Blum group's bailiwick.
Deeb focuses his practice on commercial and employment litigation; Frishberg focuses on estate planning and administration, corporate, real estate and tax planning; Markovich focuses on business reorganization and bankruptcy, commercial finance transactions, debt restructuring, creditors' rights and financial services regulation; and Murphy focuses on corporate transaction work and commercial litigation on behalf of banks, construction companies, real estate developers and municipalities, among other clients.
Pamela D. Hans, managing shareholder of Anderson Kill's Philadelphia office, said the group brings strong commercial litigation and financial services capabilities to the firm's existing banking, energy and construction clients.
Hans said the group brings a significant number of new clients to Anderson Kill in addition to the clients the two firms already have in common in the financial sector.
Hans added that Frishberg's estate planning practice enhances Anderson Kill's existing group of attorneys in that area.
Likewise, Frishberg said Anderson Kill presented his group with a similar expansion opportunity.
"We thought it was a great firm and we thought they added an expansion of services to our clients, added more depth and had more of a national presence than we did," Frishberg said.
Deeb Blum, founded as Frey Petrakis Deeb Blum & Murphy in 1989 by former partners L. Oliver Frey and Jonathan M. Petrakis, underwent a few key personnel changes over the past five-and-a-half years, beginning with the departure of Frey for Saul Ewing in April 2008.
The firm carried on as Deeb Petrakis Blum & Murphy until September 2011, when Petrakis departed for Duane Morris, prompting the firm to again change its name to Deeb Blum Murphy Frishberg & Markovich.
Recruiter Frank D'Amore, who was not involved in either move by the Deeb Blum attorneys, said Petrakis was a "significant figure" at the firm and noted that it's not uncommon to see smaller firms make major changes after losing an attorney like that.
D'Amore said Deeb Blum is known for being a quality firm with a diverse practice that belies its size.
Frishberg said Deeb Blum's decision to join up with a larger firm was not the result of any financial difficulties.
In fact, given that the firm had initially been in the market to add lawyers before meeting with Anderson Kill, the situation "was just the opposite," Frishberg said.
In addition, Frishberg said his and his colleagues' move to Anderson Kill was technically a group lateral rather than a merger or acquisition because Anderson Kill will not be assuming any of Deeb Blum's liabilities or assets.
Ultimately, Frishberg said the group saw joining a bigger firm as a plus for their practices and their clients.
"We saw it as an opportunity to expand geographically and to expand our ability to offer a better range of corporate legal services to our clients," Frishberg said, adding that Deeb Blum has declined other offers to join larger firms over the years because it did not want to relinquish its identity as a boutique firm.
Frishberg said he and his colleagues expect to be able to maintain their "boutique arrangement" in Anderson Kill's Philadelphia office, where there are currently only three attorneys based full-time.
Like Deeb Blum, New York-based Anderson Kill has undergone significant changes within the past five-and-a-half years as well, beginning with Reed Smith acquiring 55 of its 120 attorneys in February 2008, forcing the closure of its four-attorney Chicago office and taking nine attorneys from its Philadelphia office.
In October 2009, Maryland-based Offit Kurman added six Anderson Kill attorneys to its Philadelphia office, reducing Anderson Kill's Philadelphia office to four lawyers.
D'Amore said the addition of the Deeb Blum lawyers will help Anderson Kill to expand its capabilities beyond the insurance work it had developed a reputation for.
"Anderson Kill has always been known for insurance work on behalf of insureds. With the lawyers they're getting, it gives them more diversity," D'Amore said, adding, "Coming off the heels of having lost the lawyers to Reed Smith, [the move] starts to give them some more bulk in Philadelphia."
Hans said her firm is very much in rebuilding mode in Philadelphia and called the addition of the Deeb Blum group "a springboard to expand even further."
Kansas City, Mo.-based Shook Hardy, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to Philadelphia, having opened an office there last year with the addition of Dechert partner Sean Wajert.
D'Amore said the firm is a "beast when it comes to products liability" defense.
With the addition of Blum, who focuses his practice on complex and commercial litigation, the Philadelphia office will now have six attorneys.
Neither Blum nor Wajert returned calls seeking comment.
In a firm press release, Wajert said the addition of Blum "will add depth and dimension" to the firm.