Local lawyers leave LeClairRyan for O’Hagan

Kevin O'Hagan and Charlie Meyer in front of the new office at 411 E. Franklin St. (Kieran McQuilkin)

Kevin O’Hagan and Charlie Meyer in front of the new office at 411 E. Franklin St. (Kieran McQuilkin)

A downtown law practice with roots in the Windy City has added a group of Richmond lawyers from a larger rival and is eyeing further expansion.

O’Hagan, a law firm with offices in Virginia, Chicago and Philadelphia and elsewhere, opened for business Monday as O’Hagan Meyer, reflecting its addition of longtime LeClairRyan attorney Charlie Meyer.

Meyer, whose last day at LeClair was Friday, brings with him six attorneys from LeClairRyan, where he was chair of the firm’s labor and employment practice group.

Joining Meyer from the labor and employment practice at LeClair are partners Vijay Mago, Joan Mckenna and Mike Barnsback, and associate Bryan Holbrook. Also coming from LeClairRyan are business litigation attorney Charles Sims, and Robert Yates, who specializes in product liability and tort defense cases.

O’Hagan Meyer also added to its Richmond ranks Eve Campbell and Rachel Laughlin, who came from other firms, bringing the firm’s headcount to around 50.

The firm, which keeps its Richmond office at 411 E. Franklin St., is also opening new offices in Alexandria and Washington, D.C., where several of the new hires work.

Founder Kevin O’Hagan, who lives in Richmond and commutes regularly to the Chicago office, said the firm is already looking elsewhere for growth.

“It just made sense for us to come together and do this and grow it in Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and maybe California,” he said. “We’re not trying to create a new LeClairRyan. It’s going to take time.”

Meyer and O’Hagan met more than 20 years ago while working as associates at McGuireWoods in Richmond. They were neighbors in the West End, their wives became friends and they had kids around the same time.

“With Charlie, I always just wanted him to be my partner,” O’Hagan said. “In my opinion, he’s always been the most dynamic partner at LeClairRyan.”

The move also was fueled by the similarities in their law practices. Groups from both sides work labor and employment claims, representing large national clients down to local companies, from overtime disputes to wrongful termination claims.

The firm also practices commercial litigation, product liability, directors and officers liability and other areas.

Meyer and O’Hagan would not comment on how big a book of business Meyer and his crew brought over.

Meyer, a UVA law school grad, made clear his positive feelings for his 18 years at LeClairRyan, specifically recognizing founder Gary LeClair for his leadership.

“It’s not a rejection. We have an excellent relationship with LeClairRyan,” Meyer said. “We’re just moving in a litigation-focused direction. When you’re in a litigation-focused boutique, you can control a lot of things.”

Meyer and O’Hagan said they are looking to capitalize on changing trends in the legal industry in which firms keep overhead down, while maintaining quality.

“It’s all about better, faster, more cost effective,” Meyer said.

Added O’Hagan: “For eons law firms have taken their increased costs and passed that on to clients with an increased rate. In today’s market where every type of business has to be more efficient, law firms should be no exception.”

It’s the second time in less than a year that attorneys in LeClairRyan’s labor and employment group have left for other firms. Steven Brown led a team to northern Virginia firm IslerDare last fall.

LeClairRyan has other issues keeping it occupied, including a gender discrimination complaint filed by one of its former attorneys and ongoing mediation negotiations with the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Health Diagnostic Laboratory.

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