Piper Rudnick buys San Francisco firm

Steinhart gains foothold in Northern California

December 27, 2003|By Ameet Sachdev | Ameet Sachdev,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Piper Rudnick LLP, one of Chicago's largest law firms, has acquired San Francisco firm Steinhart & Falconer LLP, filling a hole in its national footprint.

The deal, which takes effect Thursday, adds 32 lawyers, including 19 partners, to Piper Rudnick's roster of more than 950 attorneys in 13 offices. The national firm has quickly added a number of U.S. offices since it was created in 1999 from the merger of Chicago's Rudnick & Wolfe and Baltimore's Piper & Marbury.

"The smartest thing we did was we developed a strategic plan before we merged," said Lee Miller, co-chair of Piper Rudnick. "The plan was to increase our presence on the East and West coasts."

Expanding to Northern California wasn't easy. Two years ago, talks fell apart with San Francisco's McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, which had more than 300 lawyers in California. McCutchen merged last year with Boston's Bingham Dana to form Bingham McCutchen.

The loss of that deal may be a blessing in disguise for Piper Rudnick. In 2001, the Northern California economy was still depressed from the technology bust and only now do signs point to a recovery.

Piper Rudnick was introduced last winter to Steinhart & Falconer and had to move fast. The 100-year-old San Francisco firm had been courted by about a dozen firms in the past year.

Steinhart is best known for representing some of the country's largest media and publishing companies, including ABC Corp., CBS, Time Warner and Clear Channel Communications Inc. The firm also represents Bay Area icons, including Napa's Copia wine and food center, Lucasfilm Ltd., and Safeway Inc., which owns the Dominick's supermarket chain in Chicago.

"One of the motivations for us was that we would be able to better serve our clients from a national platform," said Robb Scott, a Steinhart & Falconer partner who will serve as partner-in-charge of Piper Rudnick's San Francisco office.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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