Since its modest start as a five-attorney office in 2008, the Rochester-area branch of Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC has nearly quintupled in size.
At 24 attorneys, the firm’s Rochester-area office easily will add at least five lawyers by the end of the year, with several likely to join in coming weeks, said Edward Hourihan Jr., managing member of the local office for Syracuse-based Bond, Schoeneck.
With 19 attorneys, the office ranked 14th on the Rochester Business Journal’s most recent list of law firms. The more recent complement of lawyers would have boosted its rank to No. 11.
The firm recently added 8,000 square feet to its third-floor space in Linden Oaks Office Park. Hourihan expects the bank of recently completed and largely empty offices to be filled soon. The added space puts the Bond, Schoeneck branch in roughly three quarters of the floor.
"We’ll probably need the rest of the floor. We’re going to run out of space before too long," said Bond, Schoeneck member Timothy Fitzgerald, who serves as Hourihan’s deputy.
Fitzgerald and Hourihan were among the five partners who broke away as a group from Harris Beach PLLC to found Bond, Schoeneck’s local office.
The Rochester branch has grown largely by attracting members who switched from prominent Rochester firms, but it also has added lawyers who moved from in-house counsel jobs or joined from out-of-town firms.
Commercial litigator Jeffrey Allen is a Central New York native who previously founded and headed California law firms in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. When he and his wife decided to return to Upstate New York, they wanted to relocate to Rochester, where they had no family ties, because it was centrally situated among Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse, where they each have relatives.
He interviewed at several Rochester-area firms as a matter of due diligence, Allen said.
"I’d pretty much decided on Bond, Schoeneck when I talked to other people. Ed (Hourihan) and Tim (Fitzgerald) did a pretty good job of recruiting," he said.
Bond, Schoeneck, a firm of roughly 180 attorneys with nine New York offices and branches in Naples, Fla., and Overland, Kan., had long viewed Rochester as a gap to be filled.
"Our firm had been interested for many years in opening a Rochester office," explained Richard Hole, management committee chairman, in an email. "We had offices in every major city along the Thruway with the exception of Rochester."
Five years after its modest start, Hole said, the Rochester office is the firm’s third-largest office, eclipsed only by its Syracuse headquarters and Albany office.
Hourihan describes the process by which the office attracted new lawyers as partly a recruiting drive in which he or others sent out feelers to likely candidates, but also as a magnet that has attracted experienced attorneys in line for a change.
"I probably get at least a call a week from interested lawyers," he said.
In addition to the office’s original core, members have migrated from Harter Secrest & Emery LLP, Nixon Peabody LLP and other area firms.
After working at Chamberlain, D’Amanda, Oppenheimer & Greenfield LLP since graduation from law school in 1977, Edward Radin left that firm at the tail end of a 17-year stint as its managing partner.
He describes his decision to leave Chamberlain, D’Amanda, a firm more than 100 years old and roughly as large as the local Bond, Schoeneck office, as emotionally difficult but a virtual no-brainer intellectually.
His decision partly was a case of wanting to throw off the traces of management responsibilities.
"You can only be a managing partner so long," he said.
But until a Bond, Schoeneck attorney sent out a tentative feeler weeks before Radin was to step down as managing partner, he had not thought about leaving. Despite his long history with Chamberlain, D’Amanda and the fondness he still feels for the firm, Bond, Schoeneck offered advantages, Radin said.
"It was the support. Bond, Schoeneck is a bigger firm," he said. "Most of my clients are small businesses, and despite the fact that I was managing partner, Chamberlain, D’Amanda is generally more focused on personal service law."
At Chamberlain, D’Amanda, he had got used to doing a lot of the tax-law investigation and other relatively arcane research his clients might need, Radin said. At Bond, Schoeneck, he can lay off some of those duties on other members.
Bond Schoeneck’s Rochester trust and estate practice includes Cressida Dixon and Nicole Marra, who moved to Bond, Schoeneck together from Nixon Peabody’s Rochester office.
"Cress and I wanted to stay together as a team, and we decided to move together," Marra said.
Ingrid Palermo, formerly an associate in Harter Secrest & Emery’s bankruptcy department and before that a law clerk to former Bankruptcy Court Judge John Ninfo II, moved to Bond, Schoeneck as a bankruptcy associate in 2009. She achieved partner-level status as a member in March.
Palermo’s promotion came in spite of her preference, as mother of three school-age children, to work part time. A creditor-side bankruptcy lawyer, she prefers to work on larger, more complex cases and does much of her work downstate.
Many firms would see her determination to give equal time to her family and her law practice as incompatible with a firm partnership. The flexibility Bond, Schoeneck offered had a lot to do with her decision to join the firm, Palermo said.
Hourihan does not see the office’s growth as likely to slow down anytime soon, a prediction that warms Hole’s heart.
"The office has far exceeded our expectations by any measure," Hole said.
5/17/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected].