Piper & Marbury announced yesterday that its Washington, D.C., office will expand by more than 20 lawyers next month when it absorbs a competitor, a move that also will establish government contracts as a new practice for the Baltimore law firm.
The addition of the Pettit & Martin lawyers comes on the heels of a partners' decision last weekend to dissolve the San Francisco-based firm, which has suffered from the loss of partners and the collapse of California's real estate markets. In recent years, the number of lawyers there has fallen by half, from a high of roughly 250.
"Pettit & Martin has one of the nation's premier government contracts practices," said Jeffrey F. Liss, Piper & Marbury's administrative partner in Washington. "They've spent the past 20 years building an expertise and a client base that is simply stellar."
The 22 lawyers, who will raise the number of Piper & Marbury lawyers in the nation's capital to 90, represent virtually the entire Pettit & Martin Washington staff, Mr. Liss said.
The Pettit & Martin attorneys also are expected to bring with them a number of prestigious defense and transportation clients, including Martin Marietta Corp., GTE Corp. and Northrop-Grumman.
Piper & Marbury, whose total lawyer count will rise to 300 in six offices, has a client base that includes Rouse Co., Alex. Brown & Sons, USF&G; Corp. and McCormick & Co. Inc.
Piper & Marbury's Washington office currently focuses on environmental, antitrust, banking, communications and commercial and product liability law. A portion of the Pettit & Martin lawyers also augment Piper & Marbury's existing white-collar criminal defense practice.
"Piper & Marbury has what we were looking for in terms of a strategic plan," said Gregory A. Smith, a Pettit & Martin partner. "They're stable, and they have a number of practices that complement what we do."