Montgomery McCracken courtesy photo

Two labor and employment partners are returning to Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads after a 15-year stint at Ballard Spahr, filling a newly created gap in Montgomery McCracken’s labor and employment practice.

Frank Chernak and William Kennedy had left for Ballard Spahr in 2002 as part of a large group lateral move. They are now returning to Montgomery McCracken as chairman and vice chair of the labor and employment practice.

Earlier this week, the same practice group had lost two partners and two associates in Philadelphia who departed for Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. Montgomery McCracken chairman Louis Petroni said his firm was already in talks with Chernak and Kennedy when it learned about the group going to Ogletree.

Chernak said he started thinking about a return to his former firm when he saw that litigator Richard Simins had done the same earlier this year, rejoining Montgomery McCracken after 16 years at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

“It sounded like a good place to grow … and an opportunity to have more of a senior role,” Chernak said.

He and Kennedy together bring both counseling and trial experience, Chernak said. And they have “a nice stable of clients as well,” Petroni said. Their client base is particularly strong in the medical field and health systems, telecommunications and government, Chernak said.

Petroni said he expects to the practice to grow “exponentially,” with a near-term need for additional labor and employment hires.

“Frank and Bill are coming in with an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. They have “such a wealth of experience that many of our clients are going to be thrilled to interact with them.”

Chernak said he’s glad for the smaller firm and practice group environment he’ll have at Montgomery McCracken, with ample opportunity for discussing things like case strategy with colleagues.

“You don’t bill the client for that, but you get such insight and such different thoughts about approaching a deposition or approaching an argument or a trial,” Chernak said.

In a statement, Ballard Spahr chairman Mark Stewart wished the lawyers success.

Meanwhile, former Montgomery McCracken partner Daniel O’Meara said he had been drawn to Ogletree by the firm’s larger platform. He said lawyers on the move in his practice area generally have been seeking the resources that a major boutique, or even a large law firm with a large labor and employment practice, can provide.