A small, highly regarded city law firm that handles most of Crown Central Petroleum Corp.'s legal work in Maryland has announced it is merging into a firm in Richmond, Va., that is among the nation's 60 largest.
In the face of an economic downturn that has forced some firms to pare personnel, Cable, McDaniel, Bowie & Bond, located at 1 N. Charles St., will become part of 320-lawyer McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe, effective Nov. 1. Cable, McDaniel has 17 attorneys.
"We think there are tremendous opportunities in serving our mutual clients and clients of the individual firms," Morton A. Sacks, a Cable, McDaniel senior partner, said. "We have worked with McGuire, Woods over the years -- many, many years -- and have had a very successful relationship with that firm."
Crown is one client the firms share, with McGuire, Woods handling the Baltimore-based petroleum company's legal matters in Virginia. McGuire, Woods has been extending its influence northward in recent years. Four years ago, it merged with a Northern Virginia firm, acquiring nearly 100 attorneys.
"Baltimore is a natural and important addition to our already strong presence in the mid-Atlantic region," Robert L. Barrus, chairman of McGuire, Woods' executive committee, said in a prepared statement.
Most of Cable, McDaniel's clients are businesses, and it has been in Baltimore in one form or another since the 1930s, Mr. Sacks said. His firm will take the McGuire, Woods name, and three lawyers will be added to its staff when the merger is completed.
At least two other major law firms, Hazel, Thomas of Fairfax, Va., and Hogan & Hartson of Washington, have established Baltimore offices in the past three years.
"It's not impossible that the downturn in the economy may have caused any number of firms to be considering various options that might present themselves," said John C. Baldwin, managing partner of Ober, Kaler, Grimes and Shriver, a Baltimore law firm.
"I don't see that it means an awful lot for the legal community to have another firm enter the [local] marketplace," said Mr. Baldwin, whose firm has 120 lawyers. "It's not really a surprise. I think a number of firms have chosen to become regionally based."