Gordon & Rees adds 30-strong East Coast team from regional defence litigation firm Marks O’Neill

Team led by eight partners joins Am Law 100 firm across New York, New Jersey and Westchester offices

Am Law 100 firm Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani has hired a 30-strong team including 19 litigators on the East Coast from regional defence litigation firm Marks O’Neill O’Brien Doherty & Kelly.

The team will join Gordon & Rees across the firm’s New York, New Jersey and Westchester offices and is made up of 19 litigators, including eight partners, alongside 11 paralegals and professional staff. It is led by partners John Hopwood and Melissa Brown, both of whom were senior partners at their former firm. 

The team handles a range of litigation including professional liability, healthcare, labour and employment, cyber and data security and commercial litigation, as well as construction, municipal and public entity liability, premises liability and casualty.

“These outstanding lawyers are the perfect complement to Gordon Rees’ national capabilities in these areas,” said Ron Giller, managing partner of the firm’s New Jersey office. “The group also bolsters our east coast presence and accelerates what looks to be a very strong year for us.”

Hopwood was with Marks O’Neill for nearly 20 years and before leaving the firm served as the managing partner of its New York office. His practice focuses on all aspects of construction litigation, including the defence of design/defect claims and of allegations brought under New York Labor Law. 

Meantime, Brown was with Marks O’Neill for more than 15 years and most recently led the New Jersey office’s professional liability team. She brings experience defending corporations and individuals in cyber litigation and data security breaches. She also defends professional malpractice claims against professionals in the legal, medical, financial, insurance and real estate industries. 

Hopwood said of the move: “Gordon & Rees provides our team with a national platform across all 50 states which enables our team to provide our clients with the highest level of legal services throughout multiple practice areas. The internal support and leadership at Gordon & Rees is unmatched and we are excited to be part of the team.”

Following the team’s departure, Marks O’Neill has 18 partners alongside around 40 associates and of counsel across its offices in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, according to its website.

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Gordon & Rees, which is based in San Francisco, houses more than 1,000 lawyers in around 70 offices across the US and in 2021 achieved revenue of $483.4m, according to data from Law.com, making it the country’s 88th largest law firm by turnover. In 2019, it became the first and to date only law firm in the US to open offices in all 50 states and is the 27th largest national firm by headcount. 

The full service firm is noted for its insurance practice and is ranked by the Chambers and Partners legal directory for insurance in California, Arizona and Pennsylvania. 

Joining Hopwood in the New York City office are partners Marci Mitkoff, Sydne Fetten, Bonnie Goldman, of counsel Robert Fein and associate Amanda Chiarello. Joining the Westchester office are of counsel Lynn Liebman and associates Joseph Samuels and Gabriella Manganiello.

Joining Brown in the New Jersey office are partners Amanda King, Nicole Mulhern, Michael Slivjak, and associates Kevin Buttery, Madelynn Correnti, Deanne Lowden, Brittney Nochimson, Kathryn Siegeltuch and Jonathan Stuckel.

Marks O’Neill shareholder, Joseph O'Neill, told GLP: “We really have no comment on the attorneys who defected or the manner in which they took leave but we are more bullish than ever about the firm’s trajectory. We are aggressively filling the vacated positions with very capable attorneys and remain loyal and committed to our clients of many years as they have demonstrated their loyalty and commitment to us.”

The move is the latest instance of a larger US firm snapping up a team from a smaller rival and follows Paul Hastings' hire of an 18-partner restructuring team from mid-sized firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan last spring, with most of the team joining the Los Angeles giant in New York. 

There was a notable flurry of deals in January when Morrison Foerster's takeover of Californian IP litigation boutique Durie Tangri went live while Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe unveiled a merger with Washington DC-based specialist fintech firm Buckley and Goodwin Procter secured a group of 14 partners from Troutman Pepper to officially launch in Philadelphia.

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