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Duane Morris Finalizes Merger With Satterlee Stephens, Adding 65 in NY

By Lizzy McLellan
February 3, 2020
The Legal Intelligencer

Duane Morris and Satterlee Stephens officially tied the knot over the weekend, growing the Philadelphia-based Am Law 100 firm’s presence in New York by more than 60%.

According to Matthew Taylor, chairman of Duane Morris, the two firms officially signed off on the deal, with the merger becoming effective midnight Feb. 1. He said lawyers from Satterlee were working under the Duane Morris banner on Saturday morning, as office and technology integration had already begun in January.

The combined firm will have annual gross revenue of at least $550 million, Taylor said, based on both firms’ financial performance in prior years. According to preliminary law firm financial data from ALM Intelligence, Duane Morris grew revenue to more than $510 million in 2019 and profits per equity partner were north of $1 million for the second year.

“We were very happy with the year,” Taylor said.

Duane Morris, which had about 800 lawyers pre-merger, entered the New York market about 25 years ago and built its presence there to just under 100 lawyers before merging with Satterlee, which adds about 65 lawyers to the firm. Total personnel added number about 100, Taylor said.

The firm will maintain two offices in New York, including Satterlee’s location at 230 Park Ave. and Duane Morris’ office in Times Square. But in about 60 days, Taylor said, some Satterlee lawyers will move to Times Square and some Duane Morris lawyers will move to Park Avenue, as part of the firms’ practice integration plans.

“Everyone’s eager to mix it up,” Taylor said, noting that more lawyers than necessary have already volunteered to move.

Post-merger, James Coster, chair of Satterlee’s executive committee, will become co-managing partner of Duane Morris’ New York offices, along with current office leader Michael Grohman. Coster will also join Duane Morris’ board, and will be head of the firm’s global securities litigation division.

Other Satterlee partners have taken on leadership roles as well, Taylor said. James Regan will be vice chair of the securities litigation group, Jennifer Philbrick McArdle will be vice chair of the commercial and antitrust litigation division, and Amy Guss will be vice chair of the private client services group.

One other partner will be named to the firm’s board as well, Taylor noted, but who that will be is not yet determined. Having multiple Satterlee partners on Duane Morris’ board was seen as a key part of the integration plan, he said.

Taylor said he plans to meet with each of Satterlee’s lawyers and staff members over the next week. And, he noted, clients have already been brought into the fold. Even when the two firms were still in talks, he said, some legacy Duane Morris clients were getting help from Satterlee lawyers, and some legacy Satterlee clients were using Duane Morris services, particularly in London, Delaware, San Francisco and Texas.

“It’s nice to see proof of concept already, not one full official work day in, that we’ve got a lot of flow of commerce back and forth already,” Taylor said.

By combining with Satterlee, Duane Morris is adding lawyers who have served large financial institutions and corporations in complex commercial litigation. In particular, the firm’s partners have advised Moody’s, Oppenheimer & Co., JPMorgan Chase, IBM, Exxon, Johnson & Johnson, Bank of Montreal, Investors Bank, Stifel Nicolaus and Co. and Calvin Klein Inc., according to the firm’s website and court records. Taylor and Coster previously said Duane Morris and Satterlee share several banking and insurance industry clients.

Taylor said the firm is continuing to plan growth in other markets as well, and will likely announce some additions in London by the beginning of March. [...]

Reprinted with permission from The Legal Intelligencer, © ALM Media Properties LLC. All rights reserved.