Archive for the ‘Firm News’ category

Departed BI Shareholder, Recruiter Respond to Article

September 3, 2008

In an article written last month by The Legal’s sister publication, the Legal Times, several former Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney shareholders were critical of the firm’s expansion strategy and claimed Pennsylvania-based management gave satellite offices little support. The firm had seen the departure of a number of high-level practice group leaders and office heads since 2007, leaving it more than 30 lawyers fewer this year than last.

In an article in The Legal Tuesday, Buchanan Ingersoll CEO Thomas L. VanKirk went through the names of the majority of the attorneys who left, offering explanations for each. In response to comments by the firm’s former recruiter, Jerome Kowalksi, who said every attorney at Buchanan Ingersoll who has the ability to move has his or her resume out there, VanKirk said Kowalski was no longer used by the firm because he brought them nothing but “dogs.”

Kowalski wasn’t immediately available for comment by press time last week, but he did get in touch with The Legal Tuesday.

“If I brought them dogs,” he said, “rest assured they were all of the finest pedigree.”

VanKirk also commented that William O’Connor and a group of attorneys who left the firm’s New York office took a bankruptcy practice that was operating at an unprofitable level. O’Connor was also unavailable last week but in an interview Tuesday said he and the firm signed non-disparagement agreements. He said he was disappointed to see what he said was the second time VanKirk violated the agreement, referring to comments in the respective articles in the Legal Times and The Legal.

According to O’Connor, he was the second most profitable partner at the firm at the time of his departure.

— Gina Passarella, Senior Staff Reporter


More on Buchanan Ingersoll’s Financials in Early 2008

September 2, 2008

The article in today’s Legal on Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s focus on national expansion and the firm’s reaction to criticisms by former shareholders focused a lot on the firm’s growth strategy over the past few years, particularly since the Klett Rooney merger. So much so that the financial numbers mentioned in a recent article by our sister publication Legal Times, and reaction to those stats, didn’t make it into the story.

So we bring them to you now… with a little commentary from firm management and former shareholders.

The Legal Times reported in early August on an internal business report from Buchanan Ingersoll that seemed to paint a bleak financial picture of the firm in the first few months of the latest fiscal year.

According to the shareholder business report cited by Legal Times, about one quarter of the firm’s attorneys hit their billable hour targets as of May and the average associate hours fell below 1,650. That put Buchanan Ingersoll at about $10.5 million shy of its billing goals, according to the article. The firm was also left with 35 fewer lawyers and lobbyists after a number of high-level departures.

The Legal Times reported that the firm’s unused value, which the article described as the deficit in work for its lawyers, exceeded $16.4 million in the first few months of the year. And practice areas such as intellectual property, employment law and financial institutions missed budget projections by margins between 8 and 13 percent.

As he did with the Legal Times, Buchanan Ingersoll CEO Thomas L. VanKirk told The Legal the firm is still ahead on a bottom-line basis, bringing in 3.4 percent more in revenue this year compared to the same time period last year. He said the report referenced in the Legal Times article encompassed from Feb. 1 to May 31 of 2008. VanKirk also pointed out to The Legal that the increase in revenue over last year was done with about 30 fewer attorneys. He said the firm’s value numbers have also been on the rise, which doesn’t usually happen in the summer months.

VanKirk said the firm as a whole has cut back on the number of attorneys, but no layoffs occurred. He said that, as with every year, there were some performance related layoffs. There was no single practice group affected, he said.

One former shareholder questioned the firm’s management after the Klett Rooney merger, looking particularly at the firm’s ability to make some tough financial decisions.

The former shareholder pointed to the Newark offices as an example. Buchanan Ingersoll had a Princeton office before its merger with Klett Rooney and the former shareholder said management “didn’t have the heart” to get rid of the nearby – and what the former shareholder said wasn’t really profitable – Newark, N.J. office that came with the Klett Rooney deal. The former shareholder said part of the Klett Rooney deal was a promise to keep that office open for a time.

Buchanan Ingersoll sometimes will let the wrong attorneys go while keeping those who might not be a good fit, the former shareholder said.

Another shareholder that has since left the firm had said it would be tough for the firm to suggest none of the departing lawyers were good attorneys. While some may not have been a great fit, the shareholder said they were all pretty much national attorneys with strong practices.

“Any firm has natural attrition, but when you look deep into the exits … there’s something systemically wrong,” the shareholder said.

~Gina Passarella, Senior Staff Reporter

Fox Rothschild Acquires Majority of Synnestvedt & Lechner

August 25, 2008

Fox Rothschild said today that it would acquire eight attorneys from intellectual property boutique Synnestvedt & Lechner.

The boutique’s managing partner, Joseph F. Posillico, will join the firm as a partner along with Gary Hecht and Richard Woodbridge. Alexis Barron, Charles Lindrooth and Tara Rachinsky will join as special counsel and Jimmie Johnson and Perry Fonseca will join as associates. Two patent agents, four paralegals, a docket clerk and six assistants will also join.

The firms said they are discussing the possibility of several other Synnestvedt & Lechner attorneys making the move to Fox Rothschild. There are currently 15 attorneys listed on the firm’s Web site, including the eight that are joining Fox Rothschild. Of the attorneys not currently making the move, two are partners, four are of counsel and one is an associate.

The new attorneys will practice for a time out of Synnestvedt’s current offices at 1101 Market St. in Philadelphia and 112 Nassau St. in Princeton but will eventually work out of Fox Rothschild’s offices in those cities.

The boutique has seen some departures of several partners, most recently with the move of partner Joseph D. Rossi to Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young. Four partners left for Saul Ewing a few months ago, and the firm laid off seven support staff not long after.

The addition brings Fox Rothschild’s intellectual property group to 40 attorneys.

“Synnestvedt & Lechner’s practice is particularly strong in the chemical and electrical areas of patent work,” Gerard P. Norton, chairman of Fox Rothschild’s intellectual property department, said in a statement. “This is a good complement to the existing Fox Rothschild practice, which is especially strong in the life-science fields of biotechnology, pharma, and medical devices.”

Read more about the combination in Wednesday’s Legal.

–Gina Passarella, Senior Staff Reporter

Fox Rothschild CMO is Leaving for Cozen O’Connor

August 21, 2008

The revolving doors of the Philadelphia marketing community continue, and this time one local firm is borrowing from another.

Fox Rothschild Chief Marketing Officer Jim Staples, who has been with the firm for a little more than three years, is moving a block down Market Street to Cozen O’Connor where he will be the firm’s new CMO.

His last day at Fox Rothschild is Aug. 29. Staples replaces Anne Casey, who was the first to hold the position at Cozen O’Connor and had been there since March 2006. It is unclear why or when Casey left the firm.

Marketing consultant Stacy West Clark called Staples a “true star in this industry.” She said any firm is lucky to have him. Clark characterized Staples as a class act who is consistently happy and optimistic.

“Nothing brings him down,” she said.

Fox Rothschild isn’t the only firm that has seen departures of high-level marketers recently. Wolf Block CMO Julie Amos left this month for the director of marketing position at Kilpatrick Stockton in Atlanta.

Jennifer Smuts left Woodcock Washburn for Delaware-based Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz where she is the director of marketing. Robin Nolan left her director of marketing role at White & Williams for a job outside of the legal industry.

Read more about this story in Monday’s Legal.

~Gina Passarella, Senior Staff Reporter

Dechert Gets License to Open Beijing Office

August 14, 2008

According to a press release issued late Thursday, Dechert will be opening an office in Beijing. Dechert had opened an office in Hong Kong in January 2008.

The decision to establish on-the-ground resources in Beijing results from our assessment of our clients’ current and potential business interests in mainland China and neighboring countries,” said Dechert Chairman Barton J. Winokur in the press release.

Check back later to The Legal‘s Web site  for more details.
Hank Grezlak —Editor in Chief

More on Sen. Clinton’s Visit to Wolf Block

August 6, 2008

Sen. Hillary Clinton spent about an hour and a half at Wolf Block’s Philadelphia office Monday in what firm partner and Clinton fundraiser Alan Kessler said was a bit of an unusual appearance.

While the senator still has debt to pay, she wasn’t there fundraising, he said.

“She came in simply to say thank you,” Kessler said.

It was one of several cities on Clinton’s “thank-you” tour, but Kessler said this one felt special given her connection to the city after a six-week primary battle.

“This was almost a second home to her for six weeks of this year with literally her back to the wall,” he said, adding that she had one of her most successful victories out of Pennsylvania.

Clinton also had the support of several political leaders in the commonwealth, some of who were part of the 50- to 60-person crowd at the firm on Monday. In attendance were Clinton-backers Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Tom Leonard, Ken Jarin, Mark Aronchick, Steve Sheller, Leslie Anne Miller, Susan Burke, Connie Williams, Allyson Schwartz and Rachel Cohen on behalf of her husband, David.

A sign in the firm’s reception area about Clinton’s visit drew a crowd and she spent the first 10 minutes with Wolf Block staff shaking hands, signing autographs and kissing babies… well, maybe not the last part.

Kessler said Clinton talked a lot about her experience in Pennsylvania and her commitment to helping Sen. Barack Obama win the general election.

— Gina Passarella, Senior Staff Reporter

Moves in Investment Management Practices Continue with Lateral to Pepper Hamilton

July 23, 2008

Pepper Hamilton grew its investment management practice group with the addition of a Morgan Lewis & Bockius partner.

John M. Ford joined the firm’s Philadelphia office where he will focus on investment company and investment adviser regulatory matters, the formation and registration of investment companies and advisers and issues relating to regulatory compliance and securities law.

Ford was a partner in Morgan Lewis’ investment management and securities industry practice group. Prior to that, he was an attorney with mutual fund service company Rodney Square Management Corp.

Aside from his focus on investment management issues, Ford has experience counseling clients on reorganizations, mergers and other business combinations of investment companies.

“John has 12 years experience assisting financial institutions with their investment management activities and is a perfect fit for our financial services practice in general, and our growing investment management practice in particular,” Pepper Hamilton investment management practice chairman Joseph V. Del Raso said in a statement.

Ford’s move continues a flurry of lateral activity this year in the relatively small investment management bar in Philadelphia.

William H. Rheiner, the partner-in-charge of Ballard Spahr’s investment management group for more than 20 years, joined Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young in March as a partner along with partners E. Carolan Berkley and John N. Ake, of counsel Lisa M. King and associate Matthew R. DiClemente.

At that time, legal analysts said Stradley Ronon and Drinker Biddle & Reath were the biggest local players in the practice area. Most of Morgan Lewis’ work in the area is done out of its Washington, D.C., office, they said, as is Dechert’s.

Paula D. Shaffner, who represents investment broker/dealers in their litigation needs, left Saul Ewing for Stradley Ronon in May.

~Gina Passarella, Senior Staff Reporter