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Offit Kurman absorbing Manhattan firm, bolstering New York presence

'One of the reasons we’re able to grow is that we have been a risk-taking firm in a risk-averse marketplace,' says Ted Offit, right, of Offit Kurman. Ted Offit, Maurice Offit, left, and Howard Kurman, center, formed their firm 30 years ago. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Maurice Offit, left, Howard Kurman and Ted Offit, the founding partners of Offit Kurman. The firm is absorbing a Manhattan practice in an effort to be a ‘New York regional firm,’ according to Ted Offit. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Offit Kurman’s quest to have 200 lawyers by 2020 is bringing it to the largest legal market in the country.

Starting Feb. 1, the Maple Lawn-based firm is absorbing New York City’s Eaton & Van Winkle, which has ties to the Big Apple dating back 200 years. Eaton & Van Winkle’s 16-person office will join forces with Offit Kurman’s two lawyers in Manhattan and three in northern New Jersey, said Offit Kurman Chairman Ted Offit.

Offit Kurman will move into Eaton & Van Winkle’s office in midtown Manhattan and is in talks with a 10-lawyer group in the region that would put Offit Kurman at 30 lawyers in New York, according to Ted Offit. The firm plans to open offices in New Jersey, Westchester and Long Island in the future, he added.

“We will not be a Manhattan firm, we will be a New York regional firm,” Offit said.

The firm ultimately wants a presence in in Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia and New York, he said.

“Geographically it works very well for us,” Offit said of adding Eaton & Van Winkle. “We have been searching for a group of lawyers in New York who would want to join us.”

Eaton & Van Winkle had about 40 lawyers in the early 2000s but many of them left in 2015, partner Ted Semaya told the New York Law Journal, and the firm had been looking for an opportunity to combine with another firm. The firms were introduced to one another by an Offit Kurman attorney in Philadelphia and began talking last summer.

The two firms found a lot of practice crossover in corporate, real estate, business transactions and commercial litigation.

“It gives us greater depth for lawyers in existing practice areas,” Offit said.

They also had differences: Offit Kurman has labor and employment and bankruptcy practices, while Eaton & Van Winkle has a significant international clientele, a first for Offit Kurman.

For a firm that has historically grown in small groups, Offit Kurman’s addition will mark the largest increase in attorneys it has ever done at one time. To help the new attorneys acclimate to Offit Kurman’s culture, the firm’s regional management will move to New York from other offices.

“Because we do small firm groups, we are able to retain our culture,” Offit said. “Taking on 15-16 attorneys is a whole lot easier than taking on 100. By relocating management and having five people already in the marketplace, we think we’ll do just fine.”


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