L-R Lisa Kabnick and Kathryn Nordick.

Two former Pepper Hamilton partners who left for Reed Smith years ago have returned to help restrenghten Pepper Hamilton’s financial services offerings.

Lisa Kabnick will serve as a senior adviser in Pepper Hamilton’s commercial department, paralleling a role she assumed at Reed Smith in 2015. Kathryn Pourmand Nordick is also rejoining Pepper Hamilton as a partner in the financial services practice group. The two will be resident in the Philadelphia office but will work out of New York some of the time.

They said Pepper Hamilton approached them earlier this year, seeking to replace some lawyers it had lost in the firm’s commercial department.

Kabnick spent more than two decades at Pepper Hamilton after joining as an associate in 1980, and she chaired the finance practice from 1999 to 2003. She went to Reed Smith in 2003 as a partner, then became senior adviser in financial services in 2015.

The role change at Reed Smith allowed Kabnick to step back from equity partnership so she could spend time working on for-profit boards, she said. At Pepper Hamilton, she plans to help build out the finance practice through strategic planning, client development and mentoring lawyers, she said.

“I see this as a really good move on Pepper’s part and a component of their strategic succession planning,” Nordick said.

Nordick spent three years at Pepper Hamilton as an associate before she joined Reed Smith in 2008, becoming a partner in 2015. When Reed Smith recruited her, she said, she was interested in expanding her skillset to include financial institutions and corporate borrowers.

Kabnick cited several reasons for her own move to Reed Smith back in 2003. Philadelphia’s banking community had undergone significant transformation as local banks were acquired by out-of-town institutions, she said, so she wanted the chance to connect with more banking contacts outside Philadelphia. And at the time, Kabnick said, there was some tension between her front-end practice and Pepper Hamilton’s significant bankruptcy practice. She had also just married a lawyer from London, and wanted the ability to refer work to London lawyers, which Reed Smith provided.

Now, Kabnick said, she’s eager to return and rebuild the transactional bench, and she said has the contacts to do that. She and Nordick plan to bring as many of their clients as possible, she said, but some require Pepper Hamilton to get onto banks’ firm lists. Kabnick and Nordick will also make connections between Pepper Hamilton’s existing lawyers and their own contacts, Kabnick said, while possibly seeking strategic hires with specific financial skills.

In a statement, commercial department chair Julia Corelli said Kabnick and Nordick “bring a wealth of knowledge and have deep experience in advising financial institutions.”

Both lawyers said they are excited to rejoin former colleagues, many of whom have remained at Pepper Hamilton. It’s an idea they had previously entertained, when Reed Smith and Pepper Hamilton confirmed they were in merger talks last year. Kabnick said she was excited by the idea of a merger at the time, though she was not involved in the talks, but she understands why it was called off.

Nordick rejoined the firm last month, while Kabnick officially started at Pepper Hamilton on Monday.

“While things have changed, I think they’ve only gotten better,” Nordick said.

In a statement, Reed Smith global head of legal personnel Casey Ryan wished Kabnick and Nordick well.