Fox Rothschild to Acquire San Francisco Boutique

, The Legal Intelligencer

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Mark Silow
Mark Silow

Fox Rothschild is merging with San Francisco-based MBV Law, effective Jan. 1, the firm announced Friday.

Six partners and one associate are set to join Fox Rothschild's office in Northern California. The group focuses on corporate, employment, real estate, intellectual property and commercial litigation matters. Although MBV maintains a general practice, the firm has a strong emphasis on representing architects, engineers and other design professionals, especially in the areas of ownership transition planning and mergers and acquisitions, Fox Rothschild said in a statement.

"The Bay Area is a key region where we wanted to expand our footprint to better serve our clients," Fox Rothschild managing partner Mark L. Silow said in a statement. "We're thrilled to be kicking off 2014 with this expansion and with a team of attorneys who share our entrepreneurial approach to providing excellent client service."

Silow said MBV broadens Fox Rothschild's corporate and litigation capabilities in Northern California.

Partners Bill Mandel, Laura Terry Howard, Jonathan S. O'Donnell, L. Peter Ryan, Dwight C. Donovan and Syvia L. Magid are joining Fox Rothschild as partners, while Jack C. Praetzellis will join as an associate. Six other MBV attorneys listed on the firm's website are not joining Fox Rothschild.

Fox Rothschild Chairman Abraham C. Reich said the firm typically looks at the economics of a deal and leaves it up to the firm being acquired to decide who fits within the desired economic parameters and should make the move.

"We don't want to bring people in and then be the bad guys and say, 'Hey, you guys aren't cutting it,'" Reich said. "We told them we wanted to take as many of the productive lawyers as we could. I think some [that aren't joining] were contract and part-time. Part of the reason for the merger was they needed more help and they were trying to piece together that work" through using part-time attorneys.

Reich said the MBV firm is merging into Fox Rothschild.

"We've got what we consider to be the productive lawyers in the group," he said.

Reich said the firm has been looking to expand in San Francisco for some time but it is a tough, insular market in which to grow. He said the MBV lawyers help fill out the firm's practice offerings, and said the firm is still looking to add more attorneys in the market. Reich said the MBV lawyers' focus on representing architects and engineers is complimentary to existing Fox Rothschild work. He said the MBV lawyers have a national practice in that space.

"The MBV group is a dying breed in terms of the number of small, boutique, high-end practices, and we were very fortunate to pick them up," Reich said.

After a transition period, the attorneys and staff of MBV will move to Fox Rothschild's existing San Francisco office.

Fox Rothschild has been in expansion mode across the country this year. Reich said that, like many other firms, the firm is looking to add to its platform through the addition of productive partners.

The firm opened an office in Coral Gables, Fla., in April with a banking focus at the start. In June, Fox Rothschild picked up a five-member zoning and land-use team in New York that specializes in high-end real estate transactions in the Big Apple. Later that month, the firm acquired Lottner Rubin Fishman Saul, adding 16 lawyers to its relatively new Denver office.

Fox Rothschild acquired a San Francisco office through its 2006 merger with Grotta, Glassman & Hoffman. The firm now has 13 lawyers in that location, not including the seven who are set to join next month. Given Grotta Glassman was a labor and employment boutique, that remains the main focus of Fox Rothschild's San Francisco office. But the office has expanded its practice base to include litigation, insurance, real estate, bankruptcy and intellectual property work.

For other Pennsylvania firms, California expansion this year has meant growth near San Francisco in the Silicon Valley. Duane Morris and Pepper Hamilton each opened offices in Silicon Valley this year, with both firms focusing on intellectual property work to start.

Gina Passarella can be contacted at 215-557-2494 or at gpassarella@alm.com. Follow her on Twitter @GPassarellaTLI.

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