Duane Morris Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Nearly a dozen employment lawyers from soon-to-close Sedgwick are joining Duane Morris’ San Francisco office, and additional Sedgwick lawyers may soon follow.

Robert Eassa and James S. Brown, who co-chaired Sedgwick’s employment practice, partner Delia Isvoranu and seven associates are joining Duane Morris, along with one paralegal and a legal assistant. Eassa will now chair the firm’s Northern California labor and employment practice. They are expected to officially join the firm by mid-December.

“We have a smaller group of labor and employment lawyers in California, and this was something we had been strategically looking for for a while,” said Duane Morris vice chairman Matthew Taylor, who will become chairman at the beginning of next year.

The firm has faced increased competition in labor and employment, thanks to the growth of large labor and employment boutiques, chairman John Soroko said. Duane Morris has set its own practice apart, Taylor said, by also including benefits and immigration matters in the practice.

“They offer an immediate boost to our California presence and practice, and will benefit our clients in and outside of California,” employment, labor, benefits and immigration practice chair Thomas Servodidio said of the Sedgwick hires.

Sedgwick has 65 lawyers remaining in San Francisco, including those who are expected to move to Duane Morris. Sedgwick still has offices in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, London, Miami, New Jersey, New York and Seattle, as well as three offices in California.

Taylor and Soroko said their firm will likely soon announce additional hires from Sedgwick in other practice areas as well. When asked how many, they said it would be “more than just one or two more,” but declined to give any further description.

Duane Morris San Francisco managing partner Stephen Sutro said his group in California has long known Eassa, Brown and Isvoranu.

“Both they and we believe that their strong client relationships will be extremely well-served through Duane Morris,” Sutro said in a statement. After the Sedgwick lawyers join, Duane Morris will have more than 140 lawyers in its five California offices, making California the state where Duane Morris has the second most lawyers after Pennsylvania. And San Francisco will be the firm’s third largest office, after Philadelphia and New York, Soroko said.

Taylor said the Sedgwick lawyers bring a “brand-name client base” including high-profile California companies and national businesses with work in California. Their clients include emerging businesses and Fortune 100 companies as well as city and state governments. Duane Morris also has its own legacy clients with employment law needs in California, Taylor said.

Sedgwick confirmed last week that it plans to close in January. The firm has faced a number of lateral departures and office closures leading up to that announcement.