Lateral Market Update: Leaving in-house for law firms

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There was a spurt of lateral movement in Pennsylvania in the latter half of July, and the bulk of those hires joined law firms from their in-house positions.

While books of business are in high demand in this economic climate, law firms across the state appear to have found value in the experience and contacts that in-house counsel can bring, even if those individuals aren't bringing a roster of paying clients.

Maura McAnney of McAnney, Esposito & Kraybill Associates in Pittsburgh said both law firms and corporate law departments have changed their business models to some degree over the past few years, and it has made hiring between the two a bit more fluid.

"Each entity has redesigned what it looks for in a lawyer," Ms. McAnney said.

Law firms have become better at pricing services, making law departments more likely to farm out certain work to outside law firms. When that happens, the in-house attorney who once did the work may move to the law firm that is now hired to handle it, Ms. McAnney said.

In-house lawyers are also much closer to the business team than they have ever been, making those connections and that business acumen attractive to law firms, she said.

And there is one other reason law firms may be willing to hire in-house counsel these days: Ms. McAnney noted a dearth of experienced attorneys in practice areas that faced significant layoffs in 2008, such as real estate and corporate law.

For example, Duane Morris picked up a lateral with longtime ties to real estate developer Toll Brothers Inc., Mark K. Kessler.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney hired an energy attorney last month: Mark D. Tattoli is moving from Texas to Pittsburgh to join the firm's energy section. Mr. Tattoli joined from a counsel position with Texas-based NuStar Energy and prior to that he was in the Houston office of Haynes and Boone.

Mr. Tattoli focuses his practice on energy mergers and acquisitions, and corporate transactions in the midstream space. He has worked on acquisitions of refining assets and pipeline systems.

In another move involving a Pittsburgh firm hiring an in-house lawyer, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott re-hired Gregory A. Weingart to its corporate and business counseling practice. Mr. Weingart had practiced at the firm for 20 years before leaving in 2009 to serve as general counsel of FFC Capital Corp.

He will focus his practice at Eckert Seamans on mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance.

Also, Reed Smith partner Carole B. Sheffield joined Anderson Kill's Philadelphia office, where she now concentrates on estate and tax planning and trusts and estates administration, including real estate matters. Her clients include high-net-worth individuals, financial institutions, closely held businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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Gina Passarella: gpassarella@alm.com or 215-557-2494. To read more articles like this, visit www.thelegalintelligencer.com.


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