Business handshake and business people

Seven lawyers from Philadelphia litigation defense firm Lavin, O’Neil, Ricci, Cedrone & DiSipio, including name shareholder William J. Ricci and three other shareholders, are leaving to start a new firm with the 11 lawyers who currently make up fellow defense firm Hollstein Keating Cattell Johnson & Goldstein, which is currently in the process of dissolving.

The new 18-lawyer firm, which will also include Lavin O’Neil shareholders Francis J. Grey Jr., Francis P. Burns III and Monica V. Pennisi Marsico, will be called Ricci Tyrrell Johnson & Grey and is set to open March 31.

Also set to join from Lavin O’Neil are associates Rebecca E. Leonard, Tracie Bock Medeiros and Sean L. Corgan.

Hollstein Keating managing shareholder John E. Tyrrell said his firm, which was formed 18 years ago following the breakup of Clark, Ladner, Fortenbaugh & Young, is “dissolving” only in the legal sense of the word in order to create a new organization.

“We have a situation like any firm, some of our partners here have gotten older and we wanted to reorganize into a new firm to take advantage of some of the name recognition of Bill and Fran,” Tyrrell said.

Tyrrell said he and Grey have known each other since they were classmates at Villanova University School of Law, class of 1989.

Tyrrell said Grey introduced him to Ricci a few years later and the three have kept in touch ever since both personally and professionally through client connections and participation in industry groups.

According to Tyrrell, while there is no overlap between Hollstein Keating’s clients and those the Lavin O’Neil group is bringing with it, the two factions’ practices complement each other because both focus solely on litigation defense with a “heavy emphasis” on products liability.

Tyrrell said Hollstein Keating’s practice also includes maritime law, insurance coverage work and commercial litigation defense work.

Tyrrell himself focuses on sports liability, products liability, construction and commercial litigation defense.

Ricci’s practice focuses on representing automotive, motorcycle, industrial, construction, aircraft, printing press, recreational and consumer product manufacturers in products liability, intellectual property and commercial cases.

Grey, meanwhile, focuses exclusively on products liability defense.

Hollstein Keating co-founding shareholder James W. Johnson, who will also be a name shareholder in the new firm, focuses on commercial and casualty litigation, products liability, maritime, professional liability, insurance coverage and subrogation law.

Tyrrell emphasized that the new firm, like Hollstein Keating and Lavin O’Neil, will not be a traditional insurance defense firm, but rather will primarily represent corporate entities directly.

Ricci, who said he has the “utmost fondness and respect” for the colleagues he’s leaving behind at Lavin O’Neil, declined to comment on why his group decided to make the move except to say that the new firm provides the younger lawyers in the group with an opportunity to adapt to a changing legal landscape.

Ricci said clients are demanding more from their lawyers at a better value and technology is changing the way lawyers service those clients.

“The clients’ needs are evolving and their expectations from counsel are evolving at an astonishing rate and I think it’s important to be in a position to be adaptable,” Ricci said, but was quick to add that Lavin O’Neil never hindered the group’s client service. “I think the Lavin firm as it remains will be adaptable to servicing their clients as well.”

Ricci said that, despite the fact that all of Lavin O’Neil’s attorneys do similar types of work, there is no overlap between the client base his group is taking with it and the client base of the remaining Lavin O’Neil lawyers.

According to Ricci, that’s part of what has allowed his group’s split to be so amicable.

Ricci said he and his group have worked closely together over the years developing and servicing the clients they’re taking with them.

Lavin O’Neil managing shareholder Basil A. “Bill” DiSipio could not be reached for comment at press time.

Tyrrell, meanwhile, said that despite the formation of a new entity, the transition will be a smooth one for Hollstein Keating’s existing clients as well.

“We have great commitment from our clients here at Hollstein and they’re getting all of us,” Tyrrell said. “On the Ricci-Grey side, they have terrific clients who are excited about the new endeavor. From a law service standpoint, it’s going to be a very easy transition.”

Aside from that, Tyrrell said, most of what dissolving Hollstein Keating and starting Ricci Tyrrell will entail is changing bank accounts and ordering a new letterhead.

Tyrrell added that the new firm will work out of Hollstein Keating’s existing office space in Philadelphia before moving to a new, larger office June 1.

“We’re going to squeeze tight for a couple of months and then move to the new space,” Tyrrell said.

According to Tyrrell, the new space will be able to accommodate growth in the future.

“The growth potential of this new enterprise was one of the most attractive parts of it,” Tyrrell said.

Zack Needles can be contacted at 215-557-2493 or Follow him on Twitter @ZNeedlesTLI.