Seattle-based law firm Foster Pepper PLLC has added nine attorneys to its Spokane office, all from the former Spokane office of Pittsburgh-based K&L Gates LLP, increasing the number of attorneys it now employs here to 15.
K&L Gates LLP, disclosed in July that it would be closing its Spokane office by the end of 2015. Foster Pepper also added five staff members to its team from K&L Gates.
While most former K&L Gates attorneys remained here, a few left for practices in Western Washington, says Phil Carstens, who was the administrative partner at K&L Gates.
The nine attorneys who Foster Pepper added here are Carstens, Thomas Bassett, Paul Fitzpatrick, Todd Reuter, Kevin Connelly, Kjirstin Graham, Lara Hemingway, Whitney Stowe, and John Drake. Bassett, Carstens, Fitzpatrick, and Reuter have joined as member partners of Foster Pepper.
They join attorneys Nelson, Jim McNeill, Jeffrey Nave, Milt Rowland, Melissa Cobb, and Payton Stockton.
John Nelson, managing partner of Foster Pepper’s Spokane’s office, says taking on nine new attorneys at once is unusual.
“There are going to be some challenges but not as many as you might think,” Nelson says. “We all know each other and have worked with each other in some capacity in the past. Spokane is small enough that it’s not like you’re trying to blend the Yankees and the Red Sox.”
Carstens says, “This is a very unique situation. We looked around at some different firms, and quite frankly, Foster Pepper was in the best position to take on nine new attorneys. They’ve made us feel welcome. And for its part, K&L Gates went out of its way to facilitate the transition for us and for that we’re thankful.”
Foster Pepper’s offices are located at 618 W. Riverside, on the third floor of the former Bank of Whitman building.
Two weeks ago on its LinkedIn website, the Spokane law firm of Workland & Witherspoon PLLC announced it had hired former K&L Gates attorneys Laura McAloon, Brian Werst, and Thaddeus O’Sullivan as partners.
“They are great additions to our firm,” says Jim McPhee, managing partner at Workland & Witherspoon. “The question you always ask is, ‘Are they good people? Do I really want to see them every day for the next 20 years?’ The answer is yes. And combined with their legal knowledge, we were able to expand our practice in ways that we haven’t before.”
The nine new attorneys at Foster Pepper will practice in the areas of business, intellectual property, litigation, dispute resolution, and trusts and estates, says Cara Ryan, a Seattle-based spokeswoman for Foster Pepper.
“Everyone is excited about this combination,” says Ryan. “Foster Pepper’s Seattle office has roughly 120 attorneys and between 130 to 150 staff. We’re the fourth largest firm in Seattle and were founded in 1904. The expansion of our staff in Spokane gives us a greater presence in Eastern Washington.” Ryan says Foster Pepper opened its Spokane office in 1998 with two or three attorneys.
Based on the Journal of Business’ Largest Law Firms list published in March, Foster Pepper becomes Spokane’s eighth-largest law firm. K&L Gates and Evans, Craven & Lackie PS were tied for seventh among largest law firms on that list.
At the time of the ranking, K&L Gates had 17 attorneys and 35 staff members here. K&L Gates describes itself as a full-service U.S. and international law firm, with local practice areas including corporate, transactional, litigation, intellectual property, patents, trademarks, and municipal law and finance.
Before closing, K&L Gates was located on the third floor of a downtown building at 618 W. Riverside that’s anchored by Intermountain Community Bank.
K&L Gates opened its Spokane office in 1980. In July of this year, a spokesman at K&L Gates’ headquarters in Pittsburgh said in a written statement that the firm decided to close the Spokane office “based on a combination of factors that include a lack of synergy of the office’s practice areas with those of the firm’s platform, the approaching expiration of the office lease, and a limited market for lateral lawyers who synergize with the firm’s platform.”
In all, K&L Gates employs more than 2,000 lawyers in 48 cities on five continents. The firm’s website says its revenue have exceeded $1 billion in each of the last five years.
In a written statement, Jeff Frank, managing partner at Foster Pepper in Seattle, said, “As the center of business for the Inland Northwest, we believe Spokane presents strategic opportunities for the firm. That said, we were only prepared to grow our Spokane office if we could add the same caliber of top quality lawyers to those we already have.”
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