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Ogletree Deakins on an expansion spree

Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Steward is geared up for expansion. The firm annexed two small-sized law firms, Pittsburgh-based six-attorney firm Polito & Smock, and four-attorney firm Simon Moran in Philadelphia.

Thomas A. Smock, Polito & Smock’s managing shareholder said, that the firm began negotiating with Ogletree Deakins in September. The move by Polito stems from the small firm’s need to serve its clients in the cities that the latter has offices in. The new firm will concentrate in union representation campaigns, labor negotiations, employment discrimination litigation, and other workplace-related issues. Besides Thomas Smock, Michael D. Glass, John C. Artz and Jack Owen III will join the firm as founding shareholders. Another named partner, Polito retired last year. Pittsburgh's legal arena seems to heating up with numerous and notable M&As dominating the local scene this year. Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, Reed Smith, Buchanan Ingersoll are a few of the hot picks among top drawer firms that paved the way for smaller firms to follow suit.

In another move, Ogletree Deakins included Simon Moran into its fold. The firm, which will retain its name Ogletree Deakins, will have Barry Simon and Christopher J. Moran serving as shareholders in the new setup. Dara Penn Newman will serve the new firm as associate, and Susan O'Neill as of counsel.

Simon, of the new firm, who will also serve as managing shareholder of the Philadelphia office, refuted charges that the merger on part of the small firm is an altruistic attempt to gain a higher platform. He views it to be an open agreement based on working experiences between the firms and therefore a natural transition. To get themselves a space in Philadelphia, the big firm took the first step on negotiating with them, he added. Moran will join the firm next year.

Besides the firm’s traditional practice areas, Oglketree Deakins will also include healthcare, education, and consumer products in its list in Philadelphia.

Greenville-based Ogletree Deakins' Pennsylvania clients, mainly in the service and manufacturing industries, necessitated the firm’s immediate attention towards transition to the area for better service. The firm, primarily concentrated in the South and Southwest, has offices in most of the U.S. cities and employs nearly 350 attorneys. Founded in 1977, the firm prides itself in being the nation's third largest labor and employment law firm. It boasts of a gross of more than $119 million in revenue.

Starting salaries frog leap to attract better catches
The salary forecast for the New Year seems pretty encouraging for the new associates who can hope to rake in more money than their peers who joined firms in 2006.

Reports based on a national survey confirm that the salaries for beginner attorneys and new hirings will see an increase in 2007, almost to the tune of 6.2 percent more than the previous year. The rise in salaries for the older hands sees an increase of nearly 1.2 percent.

The survey conducted among law firms having 75 or more attorneys on its roster revealed that first year associates’ salaries will hover between $99,000 and $129,000, while for lawyers with average four to nine years of experience, it will fall in between $120,000 and $185,500.

However, experience and specialization play a large role in the salary increases, sources opine. Law firms are on the hunt for specialized attorneys, even if it costs them a little extra, to cope up with newer mandates and emergent rules being formulated and revised nearly every day.
Polito & Associates LLC


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