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After a decade, time to change partners

Bowie & Jensen woos McComas away from SSGS

Bowie & Jensen LLC Managing Partner Matthew G. Hjortsberg has consulted with fellow attorney William A. McComas for years, seeking advice on technology matters ranging from e-discovery to the business side of his role.

William A. McComas

William A. McComas joined Bowie & Jensen as a partner last week, taking his clients with him. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Late last year, Hjortsberg thought there might be a way to expedite the process.

“It became abundantly clear rather than me trying to replicate what he is doing, I said, ‘Why don’t you come here?’ ” Hjortsberg said.

McComas did just that, heading to Bowie & Jensen in Towson last Tuesday after 10 years at Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler in Baltimore, with the purpose of working in a tech-savvy environment with a tech-savvy team, McComas said.

“They all have a technology component to their practices,” McComas said of his new colleagues. “In their practices, they’re confronting issues and their clients are confronting issues that are tech-oriented.”

McComas said he brought all his clients with him to Bowie & Jensen, where he joined as a partner.

His practice centers on small and mid-size businesses, both local and national. His business clients are often technology or software companies, a good match with Bowie & Jensen’s client base.

“For me personally, it was a continuum of service,” McComas said. “There are business, IP and litigation clients here that deal with issues my clients deal with on a regular basis.”

McComas said his work focuses on applying new technology to old law. He counsels clients on raising money, managing intellectual property and commercial property, advising them on emerging issues in business, law and technology, financing, and mergers and acquisitions.

“Bill is a business lawyer first,” Hjortsberg said. “With an IP technology base of knowledge and expertise, he provides the practice with thoughtful solutions.”

And technology expertise is a skill the firm’s clients are looking for these days, especially those seeking help with trademarks and copyrights, said firm co-founder Mark T. Jensen

“If a lawyer can do trademarks and copyrights, it’s great to have someone that can go deep on each of those topics,” Jensen said. “And with business transactional issues, [McComas] can go deep as well. You put the two together, you’ve got some sizzle.”

Hjortsberg has known McComas more than 10 years and has often consulted him on technology issues.

“Bill thinks like a business person,” McComas said.

McComas, who has written on technology and the law for The Daily Record, said he had been thinking of a change but was a year or so away from making a decision when Hjortsberg first approached him.

Hjortsberg said he finally got serious about the idea in October.

“We were dancing around the issue without being explicit about it,” Hjortsberg said. “I called Bill up and said, ‘Let’s talk about it.’”

Hjortsberg said the firm considered five candidates but, at a partners meeting, McComas was the clear choice.

“The question soon became, let’s figure out how to make this work,” Hjortsberg said.

Shapiro Sher CEO Renée Lane-Kunz said McComas and the firm parted amicably.

“We wish him all the best in the future at Bowie & Jensen,” Lane-Kunz said.

In addition to his own clients, Hjortsberg and Jensen said McComas will help the firm’s existing clients with technology concerns.

“Internally and externally we work as a team, not individual lawyers in silos,” Jensen said.

Before becoming a lawyer, McComas worked as a software engineer. In the early 1990s he worked for a publishing company, now called Arcadia Publishing, which encouraged him to get his law degree so it could handle its own legal work and curb legal costs.

McComas took night classes at the University of Baltimore School of Law. He went to Venable LLP in Baltimore in 1996 during the Internet boom to help the firm’s clients figure out how to move their businesses to the Internet.

After seven years at Venable, McComas headed to Shapiro Sher in 2003.

His latest transition “probably won’t be too different, in the sense that I have my practice,” McComas said. “My practice and my experience are something the clients of the firm can use.”