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Holland & Knight's Philly Arrival May Boost Market's Allure

Matt Fair LAW360.COM

Holland & Knight became the first out-of-town firm to move into Philadelphia in years when it opened a new office in the city in July with a team of top-shelf attorneys brought on board from Reed Smith LLP.

Since then, the firm's Philadelphia office has grown to include some three dozen lawyers, including two new partners it announced it had hired on Tuesday.

To hear firm leadership explain it, the move was driven by the needs of clients who are doing business in and around Philadelphia, and by a desire to fill in a gap along the Northeast Corridor between existing offices to the north and south.

"The growth here fit their needs, their culture, their geography, and there was a great opportunity for it," said John Martini, the executive partner of the new office. "It all made sense."

To hear others in the Philadelphia legal scene talk about the expansion, however, the move is a sign that more firms could be trying to figure the city into their growth plans.

"It's a positive sign for Philadelphia, and it would not surprise me to see other firms trying to come in here," said Darin Morgan, the managing partner of legal recruiting firm Major Lindsey & Africa's office in Philadelphia.

Morgan said that Holland & Knight's incursion into Philadelphia represented the first time in years that a major out-of-town firm had specifically targeted the city for expansion.

"This is big news," he said. "It's rare here."

By his recollection, the last time a firm planted its flag in the city was when BakerHostetler acquired the Philadelphia-based IP boutique Woodcock Washburn LLP in November 2013.

"Many of the biggest firms are focused on international offices, and they've told us that their priority is to continue to grow overseas," Morgan said.

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