Pennsylvania Powerhouse: Fox Rothschild

June 25, 2014 – In The News
Law360

Fox Rothschild was featured in the below Law360 article, "Pennsylvania Powerhouse: Fox Rothschild." The full text can also be found in the June 24, 2014 issue of Law360 but a synopsis is noted below.

From its roots in Philadelphia more than a century ago, Fox Rothschild LLP has grown to five offices across Pennsylvania, and thrives through a focus — unusual for a firm of its magnitude — on cultivating an exceptionally broad client base. The firm — one of Law360’s Pennsylvania Powerhouses — has 240 attorneys in the state handling conventional strengths like real estate, health care and bankruptcy.

“We, as a firm, are kind of unique,” said Jim Singer, a partner in the firm’s relatively new Pittsburgh office. “While most large firms have a fairly concentrated number of clients, we have approximately five times as many clients as a typical firm of our size. With that type of business, we have to be responsive.”

Singer contrasted Fox with other large firms, which have shed practice areas that are important to small businesses but not to the law firm.

“It allows us to be a little bit more full-service,” he said. “Our view is that a lot of small projects are as big as one big project.”

When the firm was founded in 1907, the city was a manufacturing powerhouse and its population was shaped by successive waves of Jewish immigration. In this environment, Fox Rothschild began — and grew — as a predominantly Jewish firm with a predominantly Jewish client base, according to Mark Silow, the firm’s managing partner.

“They represented garment manufacturers, textile businesses, cigar makers, retailers,” Silow said.

Ultimately, the divide between Jewish law firms and white-shoe firms — a reality in the Philadelphia legal market just as in New York — fell, and Fox Rothschild is currently as diverse as any large firm in the city or the country, according to Silow.

“There are no longer those pigeonholes as to who gets represented by whom,” he said.

Older strengths like bankruptcy law remain vital to the firm, however. One recent example is a $400 million judgment that a team of Fox Rothschild attorneys secured for the Chapter 7 trustee of Downey Financial Corp. in 2013, in litigation against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The attorneys persuaded the bankruptcy court that Downey Financial, not a subsidiary that was under receivership and controlled by the FDIC, was entitled to $400 million in tax refunds.

“We have more bankruptcy attorneys here in Philadelphia than anywhere else,” said Michael Menkowitz, the managing partner of the office, which is home to a total of 105 lawyers.

Fox's Philadelphia office is home to litigator Ronald Williams led a Fox Rothschild trial team in landing a $5 million judgment in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Williams is based out of the firm’s Exton office, one of three outposts the firm maintains in suburban Philadelphia. The three locations are all close to busy county courthouses, where the firm’s attorneys handle significant volume on behalf of local clients, especially in land use litigation and family law, according to Silow.

“They’re all vibrant and distinct marketplaces,” he noted.

Silow added that the suburban offices have also been valuable in helping Fox Rothschild land attorneys who grew tired of making the commute to the offices of other large firms in Philadelphia's Center City district.

“We’ve been able to attract and retain high-powered talent who found that change in lifestyle attractive,” he said.

With 30 to 40 attorneys in each of its suburban offices, Fox Rothschild has just as many lawyers in its suburban offices as in its Center City headquarters.

“I don’t see us opening up any new offices, but we’re certainly committed to the existing offices,” Silow said. “We’re always looking to get bigger and deeper and better at all of them.”

The firm also leapt across the state in 2002, opening up an office in Pittsburgh through a merger with Kabala & Geeseman. Currently home to 27 lawyers, the office has expanded through a combination of lateral hires and internal growth.

The office has also tapped into work generated by a number of high-tech startups in the region, which have been nurtured by venture capital and the region’s technology accelerator Innovation Works according to Jim Singer, who chairs the firm’s intellectual property practice.

“We have been able to work with the growing companies in that sector,” Singer said, pointing to businesses doing work in such disparate areas as big data, medical imaging and cybersecurity software.

Another practice area that has worked with high-profile sports clients is Fox’s gaming group. In the past year, three of the firm’s attorneys served as regulatory counsel for the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils as they became the first major U.S.-based professional sports teams to sign an online gaming sponsorship deal.

But the firm recognizes the need to focus on more than just marquee names to prosper.

“We have huge public national clients, but we’ll do work for anybody that pays our rate,” Menkowitz said. “The hope is that we do an hour or two of work, they will grow, and eventually we’ll have a larger client.”

In dealing with all types of clients — but especially the smaller ones — it’s critical that lawyers be quick to react and anticipate needs, according to Singer.

“Working with clients that don’t have in-house counsel or only have one person in the legal department, they need to know that attorneys are being responsive,” he said.

Fox Rothschild's vision for the future is shaped by that awareness, combined with the firm's deep history in Pennsylvania and its recognition of the state of the legal industry, especially in its Philadelphia home market, which is stocked with talented lawyers.

“You’ve got to understand the marketplace; you’ve got to be priced competitively, be efficient with what you do and deliver quality legal services, because it is so competitive,” Silow said.