Opening Statements

An Uncommon Blend

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It’s a common conundrum for many small, minority-owned law firms looking to crack the big leagues: Fortune 500 corporations want to send them work, but sometimes the work requires more resources than the firm can offer.

But Weehawken, N.J., lawyer Juan Espinosa just may have found a solution for his 11-lawyer firm. Last April, two New Jersey committees issued a joint opinion extending the professional rules on law firms operating subsidiary law firms. And it got him thinking. If Espinosa & Espinosa were owned by a larger firm, it would mean instant money and manpower. The benefit for the large firm would be instant, too: diversity.

So he started cold-calling the managing partners of several firms. He found a receptive audience in McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, a Morristown, N.J.-based firm with 233 lawyers in six offices in four states.

(ABA President Karen J. Mathis is a partner in the firm’s Denver office.)

On April 19, the firms announced the deal was done; MDM&C bought a 49 percent stake in the Espinosa firm for an undisclosed price.

MDM&C will bring the Espinosa firm’s computer system up to speed, help train lawyers and staff, and provide assistance with larger cases in exchange for part of the profits.

“We have made a commitment to grow this firm,” says MDM&C managing partner Ed Deutsch.

Espinosa says the response among members of his law firm, the local Hispanic community and existing clients has been positive, and the firm is even beginning to see some new business as a result. They haven’t seen any Fortune 100 business yet, he says, “but we will very shortly, I am sure.”

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