Armstrong Teasdale opens Wilmington office
WILMINGTON – The St. Louis-based law firm Armstrong Teasdale has entered the Wilmington market after recruiting four former Elliot Greenleaf attorneys with experience in corporate, bankruptcy and intellectual property (IP) law.
Partners Shelley A. Kinsella, Jonathan M. Stemerman, Eric M. Sutty and Rafael X. Zahralddin joined the No. 177 AmLaw-ranked firm effective Jan. 4. Each worked at Elliott Greenleaf for years before leaving the smaller firm based in Blue Bell, Pa.
Richard Scheff, a Philadelphia-based partner and leader of the Eastern U.S. for Armstrong Teasdale, told Delaware Business Times that he has viewed Wilmington as an obvious expansion market for the growing firm since he joined in 2018.
“Wilmington really is a center of a very sophisticated and complex practice of law,” he said. “There’s a lot of demand. I get questions all the time about whether we have people with a Delaware license.”
The entry of Armstrong Teasdale into the market came from a recruiter who connected the four attorneys to the firm.
“We get contacted by recruiters all the time – sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t,” Scheff said. “We’re fortunate. We have good people with good practices, they’re known in Wilmington, have a nice book of business and we’re very, very excited about them having joined us.”
The firm, which has now added seven offices in less than three years and 100 attorneys and staffers last year, intends to continue growing in Wilmington, Scheff said.
“We don’t expect that process to happen overnight, it takes hard work. We’ll work at it, identify the right people, and hopefully we can get them to come aboard,” he said, noting the firm is looking for a “full-service” office for its corporate clients.
For now, while the four attorneys joining Armstrong Teasdale primarily focus on bankruptcy and financial restructuring, they have a wide range of experience across litigation, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and regulatory matters, cross-border issues, and employment law. Each has been in private practice for about 20 years representing clients before U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Delaware Court of Chancery, federal court and state courts.
Married couple Kinsella and Zahralddin have long kept bankruptcy practices in Delaware, with the latter founding Elliott Greenleaf’s office in Wilmington in 2007. Aside from traditional bankruptcy proceedings, Zahralddin has worked with early-stage companies, venture capitalists and private venture funds as both a transactional lawyer and corporate litigator while Kinsella has experience defending involuntary bankruptcies and representing buyers of distressed companies.
Sutty has advised merger and acquisition clients along with other transactional work and trial experience, while Stemerman frequently litigates matters in Chancery Court, including actions involving breach of fiduciary duty, business divorce, receiverships, and books and records requests.
“We are pleased to be able to leverage the firm’s national position to expand our client representations and add to our distinct experience relevant to the Delaware courts,” Zahralddin said in a statement announcing the move. “In addition to our extensive knowledge of the courts’ written procedures, we have a deep understanding of the customs and practices acquired through years of intimate practice in Delaware.”
While the new office won’t inhabit the former Elliott Greenleaf office at the I.M. Pei Building, Scheff said the remote-working scenario amid the pandemic has allowed the firm to take longer to find its long-term home, which will be in downtown Wilmington. They are actively looking at offices right now, and he expects to sign a lease toward the early to mid-second quarter of 2021 when dissemination of the COVID-19 vaccines has hopefully allowed more spaces to reopen.
With other recently opened offices in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Princeton, N.J., Armstrong Teasdale has strategically been expanding along the East Coast.
“I think one of the things that the firm has realized was that although it had a Midwest presence its clients are all over the country,” Scheff said. “The firm was doing very sophisticated work with great talented people, but that there were opportunities to do more of our clients’ work if we were in other locations.”