The Key to Growth Is...
Since moving into its most recent digs in '08, Stradley Ronon's DC office has more than doubled its space and since '11, it's almost doubled its attorneys. It didn't dip during the recession—instead, the firm had its best three years. Yesterday, we talked to DC managing partner Alison Fuller and two very recent laterals—Exelon assistant GC Joe Donovan and Steptoe securities litigation practice head Jeffrey McFadden—to learn its secret.
Like Jeff, many of Stradley's 13 lateral partners and counsel in the past few years have come from biglaw (eg, DLA Piper, Dechert, SNR Denton, Goodwin Proctor, and Bingham). Jeff's moving from an office with around 300 to one with 30; this one feels somewhat like a boutique, but with a "footprint that's 10 times that size." He focuses on securities litigation and enforcement, and had Stradley on his radar since co-trying a case with securities co-chair Paula Shaffner in '01. Before all that, Jeff was in the Navy, on the very ship he's pointing out here.
Alison tells us Stradley is conservative and known internally for its stability. Despite the DC office's expansion and the launch of a New York office this year, the firm isn't interested in acquiring "far-flung operations" or becoming a mega-firm. During the recession, many clients were in industries that weren't hard-hit; still, when the in-house counsel's budgets shrank, they turned to using outside counsel rather than hiring more IHC.
Joe joined less than a week ago; we snapped him surveying the new neighborhood from his office. He says the firm's conservative approach means more efficiency. Stradley is forward-thinking about energy law issues, he tells us, such as new natural gas pipelines supporting a possible "complete verticalization" of other local industries that depend on the commodity. It would have a wide impact on a local economy, since natural gas is a component of everything from carpets to the iPhone screen on which you may be reading this.