Miles & Stockbridge acquires city law firm of 10 attorneys

Addition of Church Loker will give it 179 lawyers

April 29, 2003|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

In a move to strengthen its product liability and mass tort litigation practices, Miles & Stockbridge PC said yesterday that it has agreed to acquire Baltimore law firm Church Loker & Silver.

The smaller firm's 10 lawyers will join Miles & Stockbridge on May 1, bringing the number of attorneys at the combined firm to 179, including a 40-member litigation team.

Church Loker & Silver, established in 1989 as Church & Houff, specializes in defending companies in asbestos cases, as well as in tobacco and lead-paint litigation. Clients include manufacturers of chemicals, building materials and industrial and consumer products.

Miles & Stockbridge, with offices in Baltimore, Cambridge, Columbia, Easton, Frederick, Rockville, Towson and Tysons Corner, Va., specializes in defending corporations, manufacturers and financial institutions in class actions, mass torts and product liability claims and represents clients in general business, corporate and real estate transactions.

Over the years, lawyers from Miles & Stockbridge have worked jointly with Church Loker & Silver on asbestos cases.

"We have known of the firm for many, many years; they have an outstanding reputation," said John B. Frisch, chairman of Miles & Stockbridge. "This adds ... very experienced trial lawyers in a practice that complements and augments what we have been doing in mass tort and product liability. Those areas are incredibly busy for us now."

F. Ford Loker, managing shareholder of Church Loker & Silver, said his firm had been looking to join a larger firm with a more regional presence to better serve clients.

"There were opportunities to be of greater service to the clients, but I simply didn't have the number of lawyers and the right lawyers to do that," Loker said. "Miles & Stockbridge does a lot of what we do, so there will be a short learning curve for our lawyers to get up to speed."

Miles & Stockbridge has grown regionally since the early 1980s by adding small groups of lawyers and establishing offices in several areas.

The firm has also added to its expertise by adding small firms with various specialties.

In the next three to six months, the firm plans to strengthen its general business practice, add a specialty in government contracts and consider expanding to Prince George's County, Frisch said.

Aside from Loker, the attorneys moving from Church Loker & Silver to Miles & Stockbridge's downtown offices at 10 Light St. are: George M. Church, Robin Silver, Douglas B. Pfeiffer, Allison L. Silvain, Laura A. Cellucci, Scott M. Richmond, Michael R. Osborn, Michelle Noorani and Evelyn C. Becker.

John P. Sweeney, head of Miles & Stockbridge's litigation department, said combining the two firms will help boost the litigation practice. "The lawyers of Church Loker & Silver are recognized as among the most successful trial lawyers in the area."

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