McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe, a major mid-Atlantic law firm, has announced it will enter the Baltimore market Nov. 1 by taking over Cable, McDaniel, Bowie & Bond, a downtown firm of 17 lawyers.
Financial terms of the transaction, which the firms called a consolidation, were not disclosed.
The entry of the Richmond, Va., firm, with 320 attorneys, will make it the largest firm operating in Baltimore. Hogan & Hartson, a Washington firm with a 30-person office here, has 300 lawyers; Venable, Baetjer & Howard has 280 and Piper & Marbury has 245.
One of the largest firms in the mid-Atlantic and the second largest in the Southeast, McGuire, Woods' closest offices to Baltimore are in Washington, and Alexandria and Tysons Corner, Va.
"We are becoming part of McGuire, Woods for sure," said Morton A. Sacks, a lawyer and spokesman for Cable, McDaniel. "Indeed, it's a major entry."
According to Sacks, the two firms have dealt with each other since the late 1940s and have jointly represented clients, prominent among them Crown Central Petroleum Corp. Both Cable, McDaniel and Crown Central are housed in the Blaustein Building at 1 N. Charles St.
Sachs said he expected a few lawyers from Richmond and Tysons Corner to come to Baltimore at first. The firm would seek new clients here, he said, and looked forward to substantial growth over the next decade.
"It opens new possibilities for us that wouldn't otherwise be possible," he said.
Robert L. Burrus Jr., chairman of McGuire, Woods' executive committee, said the move was "a natural and important addition to our already strong presence in the mid-Atlantic region."
"I'm quite surprised," said Karen Williamson, who heads the legal recruiting firm of Williamson & Neal and is familiar with the Baltimore legal establishment. ""It's big news."
"It brings in a new major player -- a firm with a great reputation," she said. "There's limited business in Baltimore and McGuire, Woods will clearly represent the major competitor to the other prominent firms in the city."
Janet Eveleth, communications director of the Maryland Bar Association, also agreed that the news was a major event.
Larry Scriggins, vice president of Piper & Marbury, said McGuire, Woods' entry here was part of the trend for law firms to expand their scope of operations.
"You've seen a great deal of branching out by firms including ours," he said. "We have offices in New York and London and about 65 lawyers in Washington. We're part of it. McGuire, Woods is part of it. They're a wonderful firm. They have a wonderful reputation, as does Cable, McDaniel."
According to Williamson, McGuire, Woods' method of entering the Baltimore market marks a significant departure from past practices.
Other out-of-state firms, she said, have instead lured high-powered names from local firms to open a new office here.
She said that in this economic climate it was unusual for a firm to enter a market by acquiring another firm.
"In the recent past many of the Baltimore firms have experienced the same kind of national growth that other firms have nationally," Williamson said. "Cable, McDaniel, although considered a good firm, in fact has chosen not to grow aggressively and therefore I'm particularly surprised at this merger.
"It's an opportunity that's outstanding for Cable, McDaniel and unusual for McGuire, Woods." She also said it was another sign of the increasing interaction between Baltimore and Washington and that Baltimore is increasingly becoming part of a larger arena.
"The more Baltimore gets into the international and national arena, the better for the Baltimore legal community," she said.