Top L-R Matthew Clyde, Lynn Brehm, John Wilson.Bottom L-R William Moorhead, Gabrielle Lee, Brian Casal ()
The firm hired two partners and two associates in Pittsburgh, a partner in Philadelphia and a partner Charlotte, North Carolina, bringing the tally of Buchanan defections at Cozen O’Connor to 26.
Partners John Wilson and Lynn Brehm and associate Matthew Clyde focus on employee benefits and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Wilson was the chairman of that practice at Buchanan. Partner Brian Casal is in the labor and employment practice, while partner William Moorhead and associate Gabrielle Lee are commercial litigators.
Wilson, Moorhead, Clyde and Lee are all in the firm’s new Pittsburgh office, while Brehm is in Charlotte and Casal is in Philadelphia.
The Pittsburgh office, which was established this month with three former Buchanan partners, is now up to 13 lawyers. Last week, the firm announced that it added nine more Buchanan lawyers in Pittsburgh and 11 in Philadelphia. Of the 26 lawyers moving from Buchanan to Cozen O’Connor, 20 are either in labor and employment or employee benefits and ERISA law.
Cozen O’Connor had about 50 labor and employment lawyers before adding the Buchanan groups, CEO Michael Heller said.
Casal said Cozen O’Connor’s firm strategy better allows him to compete with counterparts at labor and employment boutiques.
Wilson said his other colleagues’ move to Cozen O’Connor was a factor in his decision, but not the main reason. He works closely with the labor and employment lawyers, he said, but their practices are independent.
Cozen O’Connor “had 25 offices nationwide, which is a plus for a lot of our clients who are operating on more of a national format,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he has so far been successful in getting his clients to transfer their work to Cozen O’Connor.
Heller has said that many middle-market law firms have stopped doing labor and employment work, leaving a void for firms like his to exploit. He said Cozen O’Connor is aiming to have 15 lawyers in the Pittsburgh office by the end of 2017, and grow to between 25 and 50 lawyers there in the next few years.
In a statement, Buchanan CEO Joseph Dougherty said his firm anticipated the most recent departures as part of the larger group joining Cozen O’Connor.
“These departures may be new to the media, but they are not new to us,” Dougherty said. “We have put this distraction behind us and are focused on serving our clients and future growth.”