Law Firms

8 Steptoe litigators leap to Chicago trial boutique, which hopes to expand further

Updated: Eight litigators have exited Steptoe & Johnson for Williams Montgomery & John, their new firm announced Wednesday.

Led by Christopher J. Barber, the three-partner, five-associate group focuses on complex litigation, arbitration and trial work. They are expected to add substantial depth to the nearly 50-year-old Chicago commercial trial boutique, which has 31 lawyers including the new group, according to its website.

“In light of the evolution of commercial litigation over the past decade, Williams Montgomery & John was the right fit for us at the right time,” Barber said in the release. “I’m looking forward to helping the firm continue to grow its complex commercial trial practice.”

Once a significantly larger firm, with over 100 attorneys, Williams Montgomery shrank in recent years because of rate pressure from clients on the insurance defense work that comprised much of its practice, chairman Barry Montgomery, who co-founded the firm in 1967, told Crain’s Chicago Business (sub. req.).

He said the firm hopes to add a dozen more lawyers, and is looking in particular for lawyers with patent expertise.

Barber had helped open the Washington, D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson’s Chicago office in 2007, the article notes. A spokeswoman for his now-former firm says his litigation group had faced conflicts with other Steptoe clients.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. to include information from Crain’s Chicago Business.

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