Nixon Peabody Combines With Chicago Firm: Business of Law

Nixon Peabody LLP is expanding in Chicago. The firm announced yesterday that it was merging with 100-lawyer Ungaretti & Harris LLP on February 1.

The combination stems from Nixon Peabody’s “strategic plan to grow and diversify” its small, 21-lawyer Chicago office, said Andrew I. Glincher, the firm’s managing partner and chief executive officer.

“We followed the appetite of our clients for a full-service office in Chicago,” Glincher said in a telephone interview from Boston.

No layoffs will result from the merger. Over the year, the firm’s lawyers will all be housed in the current Ungaretti offices, he added.

The new lawyers won’t get compensation guarantees. “Compensation rises and falls with the performance of the firm, which we think encourages teamwork,” Glincher said.

Once the merger is complete, Nixon Peabody will have 700 lawyers. That number is likely to grow further as the firm seeks to expand its offices in New York, as well as its three California locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palo Alto, Glincher said.

Nixon Peabody first opened in Chicago in 2007 focusing primarily on intellectual property, along with litigation and labor and employment. The firm’s leaders soon realized they wanted to grow and took a deliberate path to increase its size.

“We’ve been familiar with Ungaretti for a number of years and had reached out to them,” Glincher said. “The last time we reached out was almost two years ago, and while they were interested in talking, the firm, like us, didn’t have to merge because it was doing well.”

“We liked each other so we’d talk every few months and kept the dialog going, slowing introducing partners,” Glincher said.

The merger gained traction when the management committees of both firms started meeting in September. They struck a deal after Thanksgiving.

“It was a courtship,” Glincher said, describing the process. “It took longer than the courtship for my wife.”

Lateral Moves

Latham Hires Prosecutor for White Collar and Investigations Work

Benjamin Naftalis, an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, has joined Latham & Watkins LLP as a partner in the firm’s litigation department in New York. He will focus on white collar investigations and litigation and regulatory enforcement matters.

Naftalis had been with the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York for more than eight years. He tried eight jury trials and briefed and argued more than ten appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Latham said in a statement.

For the past two years, Naftalis was a member of office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, which investigates and prosecutors offenses including securities and commodities fraud and insider trading, according to the statement.

Quinn Emanuel Continues to Grow its Office in Houston

Charles Eskridge, who was previously a partner at Susman Godfrey LLP in Houston, is joining Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP as a partner in the firm’s Houston office. Eskridge is a trial lawyer who has tried a wide range of complex commercial matters. He also has experience at the appellate level, the firm said.

Eskridge joins Karl Stern, who came on board in December from Vinson & Elkins LLP, and David Gerger, who had a litigation boutique and was hired in July.

Bradley Arant Opens in Florida, Adds Laterals in Other Offices

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, a southeastern U.S. firm, has expanded into Florida through a merger with Tampa-based Glenn Rasmussen, P.A. Twelve lawyers from Glenn Rasmussen will bring experience in banking and insolvency, commercial litigation, corporate finance, labor and employment, real estate and transactions, the firm said in a statement.

Bradley Arant, with more than 460 attorneys, is one of the largest in the southeast. The Tampa office will be its eighth, adding to existing locations in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

The Glenn Rasmussen partners joining are Timothy Andreu and Michael Colgan in commercial litigation; Robert Rasmussen, and Sharon Docherty Danco in corporate finance; Robert Glenn and Edwin Rice in banking and insolvency; Mark Hanley in labor and employment; and Alysa Ward in commercial litigation, labor and employment.

In its Birmingham office, the firm has added partners Edward Sledge IV in its litigation practice group and Stuart Maxey in the corporate and securities practice. Both were previously shareholders with Maynard Cooper & Gale PC in Birmingham. In addition, Bradley Arant has added Susan Weber as a partner in its litigation practice group and life sciences industry team. Weber, who was previously a partner with Sidley Austin LLP, concentrates on complex mass tort and consumer fraud cases, including class action defense, in addition to multi-district, constitutional and appellate litigation.

The firm has also hired Phillip Walker as a partner in its intellectual property practice based in Nashville. Walker was previously a shareholder with Patterson Intellectual Property Law PC, also in Nashville. A registered patent attorney, he focuses on intellectual property counseling, including obtaining and enforcing patents. His primary practice is patent prosecution, the firm said.

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