Black lawyers start new firm that focuses on businesses


Three young lawyers who were formerly associated with two of Baltimore's most prestigious law firms have formed a law firm they say they hope to develop into one of the major black-owned businesses in the city.

Charles G. Byrd Jr., 31, and Benfred B. Alston, 38, who were formerly associates with Venable, Baetjer and Howard, and Dwayne A. Brown, 29, who was formerly an associate with Miles & Stockbridge, formed Brown, Alston & Byrd early last month.

The new firm will concentrate on business and commercial litigation, business transactions, maritime and admiralty matters, and insurance defense, Mr. Alston said. It also will handle some domestic matters.

The three lawyers, who have been friends since they graduated together from the University of Baltimore law school in 1987, always dreamed of starting a law firm, he added. They hope to add as many as 17 more lawyers over the next five years by "catering to the needs of small- to mid-sized businesses," he said.

While the firm was not formed solely to serve the black community, Mr. Alston and Mr. Byrd said they hope to "grow into a major black firm in Baltimore," offering minority law students the opportunity to work on a wide variety of legal issues.

Race, however, "will never be an issue for lawyers at this firm," Mr. Alston added. "You will be judged only on the quality of your work."

The new firm has already worked on several litigation matters with Miles & Stockbridge, where Mr. Brown was an associate from Feb. 1988 to Oct. 1990, said Lowell R. Bowen, Miles' managing partner.

"Dwayne's a good man, very personally popular, a good lawyer and has an entrepreneurial bent, which is the essence of starting a law firm," Mr. Bowen said. "We wish him and his partners well and are doing everything we can to help make them successful."

Brown, Alston & Byrd has offices at 2518 Maryland Ave. in a three-story office building.

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