Former FisherBroyles practice leaders take 130 lawyers for new spin-off firm

Pierson Ferdinand among largest law firm debuts in US history
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Pierson Ferdinand is based in New York rblfmr; Shutterstock

Two former practice leaders at FisherBroyles have left to set up a new firm, taking more than 130 lawyers with them in a move they say marks one of the largest law firm debuts in US history.  

The firm – known as Pierson Ferdinand – announced its official launch today and will be led by co-chairmen Michael Pierson and Joel Ferdinand. Pierson was formerly managing partner of FisherBroyles’ corporate department, while Ferdinand was managing partner of its litigation department.  

The lawyers from FisherBroyles are expected to join over the next three months, Pierson said, adding that he expected additional lawyers to join from other firms over the course of the year. 

Like FisherBroyles, Pierson Ferdinand will operate as a distributed firm in which all of its lawyers are partners. The firm describes itself as full service and said its lawyers cover more than 80 practice areas across its corporate, litigation and intellectual property departments. 

Headquartered in New York, the firm has a physical presence in 15 US states plus Washington DC while a London office is anticipated in Q1, according to its website. 

“We are extremely proud to open Pierson Ferdinand with more than 130 partners, making it one of the largest law firm launches in US history,” Pierson said. “We have put our people, culture and clients above everything else. Our partners have practised together for many years – and in some cases, decades – and we foresee a smooth transition to Pierson Ferdinand.” 

New York-based Pierson had a stint as assistant general counsel at Goldman Sachs and worked as an attorney at the US Securities and Exchange Commission and at Morgan Lewis before joining FisherBroyles in 2017. Alongside leading the firm’s global corporate team he also chaired its fintech and blockchain executive committee and focuses his practice on acquisition, regulatory and securities law matters. 

Meantime Ferdinand, who is based in Georgia, joined FisherBroyles in 2014 from a role as general counsel at fitness company Physio and earlier practised at Fox Rothschild. At FisherBroyles he was global general counsel and a member of the five-person executive committee as well as head of the litigation team. He has also maintained his practice as a business trial lawyer and regularly appears in federal and state courts across the US on behalf of clients, which include large corporates, family owned businesses and executives. 

“We are focused on culture, collegiality and collaboration above all,” Ferdinand said. “Our commitment to innovation and diversity and inclusion will be the hallmarks of our firm, in addition to enabling our lawyers to practise their craft and provide strong results for clients.”

The firm touted its tech credentials, saying it had developed a new tech stack that included a customised legal practice management platform and had also debuted legal AI, research tools and productivity software to deliver better value for clients.

Alongside Pierson and Ferdinand, the firm’s leadership team includes firm managing partner and co-general counsel Landon Speights, chief financial officer Meredith Mendes and chief operating officer Matthew Bradley. Ferdinand will also serve as co-general counsel. 

The exodus for Pierson Ferdinand has almost halved the ranks at FisherBroyles, which had about 300 lawyers spread across the US and London at the start of last year and billed itself as the biggest distributed full-service law firm. 

FisherBroyles was founded in Atlanta in 2002 and entered the Am Law 200 in 2021, bringing in revenue of $135m the next year. The firm’s non-traditional model includes mostly remote work and all of its lawyers being partners, which enables them to take home up to 80% of what they bill. 

Pierson Ferdinand’s launch follows more than 100 lawyers leaving US law firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith last summer to join a new boutique launched by former leaders of the firm’s employment practice. 

The new firm – originally called Barber Ranen – rebranded after just a month as Daugherty Lordan after original name partners John Barber and Jeff Ranen resigned following the publication of a tranche of racist, sexist and homophobic emails they wrote to each other while at their former firm.   

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