Expansion into New England under way at Piper Rudnick

33-lawyer office now open in Boston

January 16, 2003|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

Piper Rudnick LLP, the burgeoning law firm whose Maryland roots pre-date the Civil War, announced yesterday that it has opened a 33-lawyer office in Boston, calling it the first step in an aggressive expansion into New England.

The partners in Piper Rudnick's offices around the country voted this week to absorb the real estate, litigation and energy practices of the former Hill & Barlow LLP, a 107-year-old Boston firm that dissolved last month when the lawyers elected to leave the firm. Piper Rudnick officials said they began negotiating with the lawyers immediately and won a recruitment competition that included some of the top law firms in the country.

"Entering the Boston market has long been a strategic goal of our firm, and this group of attorneys fills the bill perfectly," Piper Rudnick's co-chairmen, Francis B. Burch Jr. and Lee I. Miller, said in a joint statement released yesterday. "Given the choices these particular lawyers had to join any one of several major law firms, we feel fortunate."

Already one of the leading real estate-law specialists, Piper Rudnick had sought to expand in New England to round out a practice that already includes offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, New York and other major cities. The firm's partners said they plan to "vigorously" recruit more attorneys for the new Boston office to add specialties in mutual funds, venture capital, biosciences, intellectual property and other areas.

Burch said Boston is one of two cities -- Atlanta is the other -- in which the firm has long sought to establish a meaningful foothold to bolster its specialties in corporate law, litigation, real estate and federal affairs.

"You're a lot better off if you can be in important markets with top lawyers who can compete, and we think Boston is one of the 10 most important markets in the United States," said Burch, whose office is in Baltimore. "This was a very attractive opportunity to partner with some people we know well and who are known and respected in the market they serve."

The addition of the Boston group gives Piper Rudnick roughly 950 attorneys in 12 offices, including about 180 attorneys in Baltimore. The firm expects revenue this year of more than $500 million, Burch said.

The Boston expansion caps a four-month expansion binge for Piper Rudnick. Since September the firm has formed an alliance with the consulting operation of former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, absorbed a Washington lobbying firm that includes former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and hired former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Piper Rudnick was created in 1999 through the merger of Baltimore's Piper & Marbury with the Chicago firm Rudnick & Wolfe. Piper & Marbury, itself a conglomeration of various mergers, had roots that extended back to attorney Charles Marshall -- great-nephew of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall -- who was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1854.

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