(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Thompson Hine has set up a government contracts practice in Washington, D.C., after luring three lawyers from Cooley, including one who was a partner at his former firm.

Partner Thomas Mason will lead the new practice. Francis “Chip” Purcell, formerly a special counsel at Cooley, became a Thompson Hine partner this week, and Ray McCann joins the Ohio-based firm as counsel.

Another government contracts counsel, Joseph Berger, moved from Dickstein Shapiro to Thompson Hine more than a year ago.

Mason, 65, previously was a leader of the government contracts practice at Cooley and, before that, at Williams Mullen. He moved to Thompson Hine in early March.

Purcell, 50, started his career at then-McKenna & Cuneo. He moved to Williams Mullen to work with Mason in 2000. McCann formerly worked in-house at Qwest Government Services Inc.

“We left great lawyers” at Cooley, Mason said. “What we’re doing at Thompson Hine is very, very similar to what we did at Cooley, but we are able to do a bit of practice that we weren’t able to do.”

Thompson Hine has a more developed transportation and construction practice, he said. The group will also be able to provide contract administration and day-to-day business support to its clients, which it wasn’t able to do before.

Cooley and Thompson Hine are very different firms, making Mason’s jump an unusual lateral move. While Cooley is driven by its work out of Silicon Valley and for the digital technology industry, Thompson Hine is headquartered in Cleveland. Cooley is among the largest 40 firms in the United States, with average profits per partner at almost $2 million last year. Thompson Hine posted profits per partner just above $600,000 in 2015.

Thompson Hine’s client mix in the Washington office has long included government contractors, said David Wilson, Thompson Hine’s D.C. partner-in-charge. In the last 18 months, the firm looked seriously to add the practice group.

“When I met [Mason] for the first time” about a year ago, he said, “I thought, if we could get this guy, it’d be a real coup for us.”

Clients that Mason and Purcell will bring to Thompson Hine include AECOM Management Services Group and Analytic Services Inc., the firm said. The pair also handles public and private funding work for environmental sites.

“At the end of the day, we’d like to have a practice group that’s able to plug in with all the other practice groups,” Mason said.

Katelyn Polantz is based in Washington, D.C., and writes about government and the business of law. She can be reached at kpolantz@alm.com. On Twitter: @kpolantz.

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