A bigger bite of the Big Apple

One of Richmond’s biggest law firms has absorbed a New York firm, and it’s hungry for more.

LeClairRyan on Wednesday merged Biedermann, Reif, Hoenig & Ruff into its fold in a deal that will add 14 attorneys and a book of European clients to the downtown-based firm.

Gary LeClair, LeClairRyan’s chairman and CEO, said he and another of the firm’s executives are traveling nonstop, looking for similar deals.

“A couple of us are living on planes, trying to expand the reach of the firm,” LeClair said.

“I think you’re going to see over the next couple of years us announcing new offices,” he said. “We need to expand our geographic reach.”

The firm has its sights set on expansion into Florida, Texas, the Midwest and elsewhere, LeClair said.

Before the year is out, LeClairRyan will talk to up to 50 other law firms across the country for potentials mergers.

“It’s well known in the industry now that we are inquisitive,” LeClair said. “All of the headhunters out there know who’s buying, and we’re known as a buyer right now. So our phone rings.”

The Biedermann merger is the second addition of lawyers for LeClairRyan in the past six months. The firm opened an office in Rochester, N.Y., on Dec. 31 and lured 35 attorneys away from a larger competitor there.

LeClairRyan now has 340 attorneys and 21 offices across the United States.

The Biedermann deal will give it 55 employees and two offices in New York City — at least for now.

The attorneys coming from Biedermann handle litigation for multinational companies that do business in the U.S. and Europe.

Biedermann’s New York office is about a block away from LeClair’s office there on Third Avenue, and the two will eventually consolidate, LeClair said.

No money is technically exchanged in the merger. Shareholders of Biedermann will become shareholders of LeClairRyan, LeClair said.

He said that his firm doesn’t release revenue figures but that 2010 was its biggest year ever.

Michael Schwartz is a BizSense reporter and covers the legal industry. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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Jeff Ottaviano

Congratulations to Gary and all the partners and employees at LeClaireRyan.