Left to right: James Kwartnik, Jeffrey Mullen, Raymond Deluca and Bruce Ficken, Cozen O'Connor
Left to right: James Kwartnik, Jeffrey Mullen, Raymond Deluca and Bruce Ficken, Cozen O’Connor (Dennis Degnan)

Cozen O’Connor has new leadership in its construction practice after bringing on a four-lawyer group from Pepper Hamilton.

Bruce Ficken, Raymond DeLuca and James Kwartnik Jr. have joined Cozen O’Connor’s Philadelphia office as partners, the firm announced Tuesday. Ficken will serve as the construction group chairman, and DeLuca will be the vice chair. Jeffery Mullen is also making the move as an associate.

Pennsylvania law firms have seen a shuffle among construction law practices in recent months, both at large firms and among smaller firms based in the state. One of the large-firm hires was Tom Madigan, who joined Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney from Pepper Hamilton.

Michael Heller, CEO of Cozen O’Connor, said Ficken’s group will help raise the profile of the firm’s established construction practice. He expects significant revenue growth in the practice from the new group’s clients, as well as an expansion of work with existing construction clients, he said.

“The profile of their practice, their reputation is significant all around the country,” Heller said. “We’ve been handling matters in the construction industry since we opened our doors, but we have never really marketed our extensive construction practice on a national or international basis.”

Ficken had practiced at Pepper Hamilton for more than 43 years. He and DeLuca have handled both complex litigation and transactional matters for clients in the construction industry. They were partners at Pepper Hamilton, where Kwartnik and Mullen were both associates.

The group’s clients include Toll Brothers Inc., Allan Myers, The DePaul Group, Pepper Construction Co., Parsons Brinckerhoff and Silverstein Properties. While there have been a few conflicts to work through, Ficken said, his group’s client base has been largely supportive of the move to Cozen O’Connor.

Ficken’s ties to Cozen O’Connor go back to the beginning of his career. When he was interviewing for a summer associate position at Pepper Hamilton he went to lunch at the Union League. There, he met Cozen O’Connor co-founder Patrick O’Connor and vice chairman Thomas A. “Tad” Decker.

Ficken also worked extensively with vice chairman Fred Jacoby as they represented different defendants in litigation related to the Tropicana parking garage collapse, he said.

“This was a natural place for me to have these conversations with,” Ficken said. “Once I did, I thought there was a lot they had to offer here, both in terms of culture and in terms of the nature of their practice.”

In a statement on the group’s departure, a spokesman for Pepper Hamilton wished Ficken and DeLuca well. He said demand remains “extremely high” for Pepper Hamilton’s construction practice.

“Today, our client list represents a virtual who’s who of leaders in the construction industry, including Bechtel Corporation, Silverstein Properties, Strabag SPA, Exelon Corporation, Evoqua Water Technologies, Veolia Water Solutions, and MasTec Inc.,” Pepper Hamilton’s statement said.

Ficken said some of his clients may continue to work with his colleagues at Pepper Hamilton through his transition to Cozen O’Connor, or afterward for specific issues.

Cozen O’Connor saw significant growth in revenue and profits in 2016, largely through lateral hiring and acquisitions. This year, the firm has also brought on three commercial litigators and a group of immigration lawyers in Miami, and added a Philadelphia-based group that specializes in institutional response to sexual misconduct.

“We are really focused on bringing in groups that have unique niche practices with national reputations,” Heller said. “This practice fits perfectly into that strategic national plan.”