Six partners from Buffalo-based Goldberg Segalla have left to form a new midsize law firm, Gerber Ciano Kelly Brady, bringing more than a dozen additional lawyers along with them.
The newly established firm, founded by Daniel Gerber, Frank Ciano, William Kelly, Dennis Brady, Paul Devine and John Jablonski, currently numbers just over 20 lawyers, all joining from Goldberg Segalla. Gerber said he expects the new firm’s head count will rise to somewhere between 40 and 60 by the end of the month, including a combination of more Goldberg Segalla lawyers and hires from elsewhere. Jablonski has been named managing partner.
The new firm already has eight offices, including its Manhattan headquarters. The other locations are Buffalo, White Plains and Long Island, as well as Hartford, Connecticut, Newark, New Jersey, London and Philadelphia. One or two of those offices are not yet staffed, Gerber said, but “those people are on the way.” While at Goldberg Segalla, the founding partners had a presence in the New York, Buffalo, White Plains and Garden City offices.
The lawyers announced their new firm just before Thanksgiving, and officially opened their office doors Monday.
The founders chose to leave Goldberg Segalla to pursue a more flexible and technology-forward business model, said Gerber, who previously co-chaired Goldberg Segalla’s global insurance services practice.
The firm’s vision “is to have a platform that is unique in terms of what it offers to employees in terms of work-life balance, and unique in what it offers to clients in terms of cost and quality differentiators because of technology,” he said. “It really runs in line with what a lot of tech companies are doing today.”
That’s not to say Gerber Ciano will be a virtual law firm—it will still have brick-and-mortar offices. But the founders boast technology and policies that allow lawyers and staff to work from any location, helping the firm reduce its overhead spending on office space.
“We aim to accomplish this through alternative service models, alternative pricing and cutting-edge technology, teamwork and continuous process improvement,” Jablonski said in a statement. “If a routine process can be automated, we will automate it.”
With 15 practice groups, the new firm is focused on litigation, compliance and risk avoidance. It will continue to focus on those primary areas as it grows, Gerber said.
About a week before Gerber Ciano opened, Goldberg Segalla filed an action against the new firm’s six founding partners alleging that they violated their partnership agreement, and are seeking to resolve the dispute in arbitration. Goldberg Segalla discontinued the case in the Erie County Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Gerber said he wishes the people at his former firm well. Asked about the litigation that erupted earlier this month, Gerber said it would have no impact on the new firm’s plans.
According to its website, Goldberg Segalla had grown to nearly 350 lawyers before the Gerber Ciano lawyers left. The 16-year-old firm has been adding to its head count steadily. In November alone, it announced nine new lawyer hires, including two partners.
The firm made several significant group lateral hires this year and last. In September, it hired a seven-lawyer toxic torts team from Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney’s Philadelphia office, after a raid on Segal McCambridge’s Baltimore office in 2016, when it lured all five of its lawyers. Also in 2016, Goldberg Segalla hired 12 lawyers in South Florida from Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, and it opened in Newark with a number of lateral hires from various firms.
The firm faced allegations of gender discrimination in a 2016 lawsuit, which it settled in July. A former associate had alleged that the firm promised a family-friendly environment, but that she was harassed and later fired because she did not work long hours. Gerber was mentioned in the complaint, but was not a named defendant.
Goldberg Segalla managing partner Richard Cohen did not respond to requests for comment Friday. In an introduction on Goldberg Segalla’s website, Cohen said he is proud that while the firm has grown, it has ”never accepted or even entertained the idea of a merger.” He wrote, “we are different from the traditional law firm model in every material way.”