Baltimore's second largest law firm, Venable, Baetjer and Howard, is about to part company with the lawyers who have built to national prominence its consumer finance practice.
Eight Venable attorneys are leaving the firm at the end of the year to launch Hudson Cook, a boutique firm specializing in credit matters. The firm will have offices in Crofton and Washington, said one of its name partners, Thomas B. Hudson.
Hudson cited several reasons for launching the new firm, including departing lawyers' desire for more control over their professional destinies.
"The practice lends itself to a boutique practice," Hudson said. "We need to be in one place, which we can accomplish this way. And we can make our own decisions about marketing and about billing."
Venable managing partner Jim Shea said the split was amicable and that the lawyers who are leaving had developed a practice "outside the mainstream" of Venable's core banking practice.
"Frankly, it makes sense" to start the new practice, Shea said. vTC "They thought they would enjoy the challenge of going it on their own."
At other Baltimore firms, lawyers reacted with surprise to the departures.
"It's always a very significant development when a firm loses that many lawyers," said Frank C. Bonaventure Jr., a former state and federal regulator who handles consumer credit matters at Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver.
"It's a really exciting concept. They have a national practice," said Carla Stone Witzel, a consumer finance lawyer at Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander.
The new firm will start out with 10 lawyers, said Hudson. Of the group, four will be current Venable partners: Hudson, Robert Cook, Daniel O. C. Tracey Jr. and Aline C. Ryan. Also joining the new firm are four Venable associates: Wingrove S. Lynton and Shelley B. Fowler, now in Venable's Baltimore office, and David S. Darland and Nuala McConnell, who are in Venable's Washington office.
Hudson said all the lawyers, including two who do not work at Venable, would be partners in the new firm.
Consumer credit has been a fast-growing area of the law, and an increasingly complex one as federal regulations have become more complicated. The area includes matters ranging from credit cards to auto leases to second mortgages.
At Venable, which has offices in Maryland, Washington and Virginia, Hudson and the other lawyers had built a stable of national clients, including NationsBank, Toyota and Nissan.
Pub Date: 11/27/96