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EXCLUSIVE: Center City law firm dissolves after 43 years of operation

Philadelphia Business Journal - April 4, 2017

Cohen Seglias Partner Ed Seglias was quoted in the Philadelphia Business Journal article, "EXCLUSIVE: Center City law firm dissolves after 43 years of operation."

By: Jeff Blumenthal

Construction law firm Jacoby Donner has disbanded after 43 years of operation, with the firm’s lawyers landing roles at various competitors.

“It's difficult, especially when your name is on the marquee,” Co-founder Henry Donner said. “But I said to myself 'get over it’ and so I got over it... We had a great run. I was more concerned about our staff. The youngest staff member had been with the firm for 20 years. But they all got good jobs.”

Donner said the decision, which became effective this past Friday, was driven by its lease situation at 1700 Market. For many years, the firm had been subleasing space in the building, but it has been unable to do so for more than a year.

“The building offered other space but asked the shareholders to pay for a fit out,” Donner said. “Our shareholders felt that at this stage of their lives, they did not want to sign personal guarantees for the fit out.”

Donner said the advanced age of the partnership and the lack of younger partners waiting in the wings as a part of a succession plan are part of the shareholders' reasoning for not signing such agreements.

William Denmark, the firm’s managing shareholder since 2013, said the partners were moving in different directions.

“We did have a situation where the partners were getting older,” he said. “It's not that we couldn’t have kept going but that was an issue moving forward.”

Donner, who has served as of counsel for the past few years, joined Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt in Center City. Jacoby Donner had interviewed Kang Haggerty co-founder Edward Kang five years ago for a job, but he instead decided to start his own firm with two colleagues. But Donner said he kept in touch with Kang and felt it would be a good fit for his practice.

Denmark reunited with colleagues Liam Braber and Christopher McCabe at Charlson & Associates, which has since changed its name to Charlson Braber McCabe & Denmark. The five-lawyer Center City firm focuses on construction law and related practices.

Partner Christopher Lee joined Wayne-base Kurtz & Revness of Wayne, a seven lawyer firm that specialized in real estate law. And Margaret Underwood joined eight-lawyer construction law firm Horn Williamson of Center City.

Cohen Seglias Vice President Ed Seglias said Jacoby Donner’s dissolution is impactful for the local construction bar. Continue Reading...