Posted March 1, 2017 2:13 PM

Merger gives Freeborn a N.Y. foothold

Michael A. Moynihan
Michael A. Moynihan
By Lauren P. Duncan
Law Bulletin staff writer

Freeborn & Peters LLP is expanding its footprint by combining with New York firm Hargraves McConnell & Costigan P.C.

The firms announced today that Freeborn will establish its first New York office by combining with the five-attorney firm. According to a news release from Freeborn, the combination is the result of a common client that “urged” the merger.

This is Freeborn’s second expansion in the past year. In May, the firm announced it had combined with six-attorney Richmond, Va.-based firm Brenner Evans & Millman P.C.

In addition to Richmond, New York and Chicago, Freeborn has an office in Springfield. Across all offices, the firm now has more than 120 attorneys.

Freeborn’s co-managing partner Michael A. Moynihan said that the Richmond expansion last year was similarly driven by a single client.

“In both cases, it really was a client who wanted us to either have a physical presence somewhere or they wanted us to bring somebody into the firm that they held in high regard. In this case, it was more of the latter,” he said.

Hargraves McConnell & Costigan works in insurance and reinsurance industries and litigation and arbitration of disputes involving domestic and international contracts.

Firm founder Daniel Hargraves is known for his work in complex commercial litigation and arbitrations, specifically in reinsurance.

Moynihan said the leader of Freeborn’s insurance/reinsurance practice group, Joseph T. McCullough IV, has known Hargraves for decades and serious conversations about merging started about a year ago.

In addition to meeting the needs of one of the firm’s clients, Moynihan said the move will help McCullough expand his work.

“The real synergy for us was to expand Joe’s practice because he’s such a well-regarded figure in reinsurance. It almost doubles the size of his practice with some really blue-chip clientele. That was the big strategic objective,” he said.

Freeborn is also looking to use the expansion as a way to build its New York presence in other areas, including its real estate, corporate law and mergers and acquisition practices.

“While I can’t envision the office getting really large, I imagine that we will add some personnel over time,” he said.

While the firm has had two expansions in the past year, Moynihan said the firm likely won’t be adding any additional offices without the same driving reason behind its recent moves.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time — growth outside of Chicago — and I think we’ve settled on that idea that we’re only going to do it for the right reason.

“And the only reason that we think is really right is having an established client base,” Moynihan said. “We’re probably unlikely to go greenfield an office somewhere just to be in a particular place, so I would imagine that in the short term you’re not going to see us populating offices all over the place.”

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