Andrew Romanow and Jeffrey Harrison of Buchanan Ingersoll
Andrew Romanow and Jeffrey Harrison of Buchanan Ingersoll ()

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney has become the latest Pennsylvania firm to focus on expansion in Denver.

The firm has hired two banking and finance lawyers to launch the new office—Buchanan Ingersoll’s first outside of the East Coast with the exception of its California locations.

“We’ve been exploring opportunities to expand our reach in the mid- and southwest in conjunction with our clients’ long-term business goals,” Buchanan Ingersoll CEO Jack Barbour said in a statement. “This move will allow us to better serve our clients and position us for growth in that region with the addition of another key financial services and energy hub.”

The firm said it counts a number of large financial institutions among its clients, making the addition of banking and finance shareholder Andrew J. Romanow and counsel Jeffrey D. Harrison the right fit for opening in Denver.

Buchanan Ingersoll said Denver is one of the few areas outside of the Northeast region that has a substantial financial services industry. The firm has already opened an office in another of those regions, Charlotte, N.C. In October 2012, Buchanan Ingersoll launched a Charlotte office with the addition of three banking and finance lawyers in an effort to capitalize on that region’s ties to the financial services industry. There are now five full-time lawyers in that office, all with a financial services, corporate or real estate finance focus.

The Denver location will have a focus on the financial services industry as well as its intersection with the agriculture and energy industries.

“With major clients in the financial services sector, we have been planning for the right team to deepen our strength in agribusiness and energy finance, and Andy and Jeff’s transactional and restructuring background made them the perfect fit,” said Rebecca Lando, chairwoman of the financial services practice, in a statement.

Romanow, who previously worked at Buchanan Ingersoll from 2003 through 2009 in the firm’s Buffalo, N.Y., office, is rejoining the firm from client CoBank, a Denver-based agricultural credit bank. Romanow served as CoBank’s deputy general counsel and then its vice president and managing counsel. Harrison also worked at CoBank and was previously senior counsel for the Farm Credit System bank, where he was responsible for the legal aspects of a multibillion-dollar agribusiness loan portfolio.

Lando said in an interview Monday that Romanow and Harrison bring specializations in specific subsets of financing that are already significant practices at the firm—agribusiness and energy.

“Our finance practice is a big part of our firm’s business and what we’re finding is that, just having a financing practice is great, but our clients have particular specializations, and in some cases even broader-based banks are developing verticals where they are focusing on particular industries, so we find ourselves doing the same thing and finding that to be a successful strategy,” Lando said.

On the energy side, Buchanan Ingersoll doesn’t have a Houston office, but Harrison has a lot of experience managing project and infrastructure finance deals for Houston-based firms, Lando said. With offices in Pittsburgh and now Denver, Buchanan Ingersoll’s energy finance practice is in two key areas for the industry, she said.

Lando said people may not think that a firm like Buchanan Ingersoll, with a Mid-Atlantic focus, would have a big agribusiness practice.

“But surprisingly enough, we have a fairly deep level of experience in a lot of commodities,” Lando said.

The firm has done financing deals and has regulatory experience in the dairy, fruits and vegetables, timber and, particularly now with its recent merger with Florida-based Fowler White Boggs, the sugar industry, she said.

“We’ve got folks who are very familiar with regulations that affect those industries and financing for those industries,” Lando said.

Lando said the deals in that space are not unlike a lot of the other larger, complex banking transactions the firm handles, but just with another layer of industry experience and regulations that apply.

The goal is to expand the Denver office to beyond just the finance focus it currently has. That growth will be deliberate, however, Lando said. The firm is open to attorneys with strong practices across a number of areas, but Lando said one practice that clearly makes sense for growth is the energy sector.

Buchanan Ingersoll follows Fox Rothschild’s and Ballard Spahr’s recent expansion efforts into Denver, albeit with a different focus.

Ballard Spahr, which has long had a Denver office, opening in 1981 and focusing largely on real estate and finance, added five commercial litigation attorneys last year. Ballard Spahr now has more than 30 lawyers in Denver.

And Fox Rothschild acquired a 16-lawyer boutique in Denver last July just nine months after opening an office in the Mile High City to capitalize on the region’s growing intellectual property sector. Fox Rothschild merged with Lottner Rubin Fishman Saul on July 1, expanding its nascent Denver office to include real estate, tax, corporate and litigation capabilities. The firm now has close to 25 lawyers in the city.

The only other Pennsylvania-based firm with an office in Denver is Cozen O’Connor. The firm has nine attorneys in the office, which focuses largely on insurance, subrogation and litigation matters.

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