A shake-up in the New England legal market has resulted in 16 lawyers jumping to the South Carolina-based Am Law 200 firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough's Boston office, eight of them as partners, the firm announced Nov. 19.
Led by Bert Capone, Thomas Hayman, and James Carroll, the group joined Nelson Mullins three weeks ago from local firm Cetrulo & Capone, which is now named simply Cetrulo. All litigators, half of Nelson Mullin's new hires focus on civil litigation, construction, and surety law; the others specialize in product liability and catastrophic accident litigation.
"We feel very fortunate to pick up a group so well respected in the Boston market," says Nelson Mullins partner Jeffrey Patterson, who relocated from South Carolina to Boston in February 2006 to launch Nelson Mullin's office there with one other lawyer.
The Boston office began serious expansion efforts in 2009 and has since grown to 55 attorneys.
Nearly 20 of those lawyers joined Nelson Mullins when it absorbed intellectual property boutique Lahive & Cockfield in 2010. Another nine arrived in 2009 from now-defunct Philadelphia firm WolfBlock.
Capone, who helped found Cetrulo & Capone 17 years ago, says a disagreement over the firm's direction prompted the group move to Nelson Mullins. Both he and fellow name partner Lawrence Cetrulo say they reached a mutual decision over the course of the year that it was time to part ways.
"This was something Bert and I had been talking about for quite some time," says Cetrulo, who wouldn't comment on the exact reason for the breakup, but noted that the two had completely divisible practices. "We're both excited about our future prospects, and I wish him good luck." Cetrulo's firm now has about 40 lawyers and 25 paralegals, he says.
Capone would only say that he and his former partners had different objectives in mind for how they hoped to continue practicing, adding that his group was attracted to Nelson Mullins "because of the general-practice nature of the firm and its broad geographic platform."
The team worked with legal recruiter Mark Kwatcher for help navigating the move, Capone says. Robert Crowe, a Nelson Mullins partner who led the WolfBlock group over in 2009, says the firm's discussions with Capone began last spring.
Nelson Mullins has offices throughout North and South Carolina, as well as in Atlanta; Huntington, West Virginia; Tallahassee; and Washington. The firm also opened a Nashville outpost in April after hiring five lawyers including new office managing partner Laurence Papel, the former head of the corporate and M&A practice at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz.