June 16, 2005

Venable Expands into New York Market, Combines with Premier Commercial and White-Collar Litigation Firm Heard & O'Toole LLP

5 min

WASHINGTON, DC/NEW YORK, NY (June 16, 2005) – To better serve its clients, Washington-based Venable LLP is entering the New York market with the addition of litigation firm Heard & O’Toole LLP.  The 12-attorney Heard & O’Toole, with an outsized caseload in complex civil and white-collar litigation and arbitration, will combine with Venable on June 30, 2005. 

The combination brings seven new partners, four associates and one of counsel to Venable, giving the DC-based firm nearly 460 attorneys in six U.S. offices.  The opening of a New York office represents a further step in Venable's strategy to expand its geographic reach coast-to-coast. 

Heard & O’Toole has developed a formidable niche in big-ticket defense work through its two principal partners, C. Stephen Heard, Jr. and Edmund M. O’Toole.  The firm is heavily involved in complex securities, product liability, insurance, environmental and other civil litigation, including substantial cross-border matters for major Japanese and Canadian clients.  Heard & O’Toole also handles extensive white-collar criminal defense work and investigations.  The firm currently represents clients in four separate investigations by the New York State Attorney General’s office.

Venable, an American Lawyer top 100 firm, was founded more than a century ago and is chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti, one of only a few former U.S. Attorneys General in private practice.  The firm has nationally recognized practices in a number of areas, including government contracts, homeland security, regulatory and legislative affairs, advertising and marketing, environmental, employment/labor, intellectual property, litigation and investigations, telecommunications, and real estate, among others.

According to Venable managing partner James L. Shea, “Given the size of our practice and the national scope of our clients, including many clients in the New York metropolitan area, we've been looking for the right opportunity to establish a presence in New York.”  He adds, "Once we met the attorneys of  Heard & O'Toole, we quickly realized we’d found the right partner to build our New York office.”  Venable represents some significant clients in the region, including Viacom and Verizon.  According to Mr. Shea, "This combination will be successful because of the clear match between our practices and our many clients in consumer products, pharmaceuticals, media and entertainment, as well as other sectors." 

“Heard & O’Toole has first-rate corporate, class action and white collar defense practices, handling complex matters for leading institutional and corporate clients,” Mr. Shea noted.  “Their litigation sweet spot complements many of our practices, and their attorneys mesh extremely well with ours."  

According to Mr. Heard, "There is a great fit between our respective litigation caseloads.  For a corporate defense and investigations practice like ours, what more can you say than being able to team with a firm led by former U.S. Attorney General Ben Civiletti?”  Mr. Civiletti's comments indicate the respect is mutual.  "Over the course of his illustrious career, Steve Heard has built a tremendous practice.  We're pleased to be teaming with someone of his caliber," said Mr. Civiletti. 

Going forward, Venable has strong growth plans for New York.  Mr. Shea adds, "Litigation and corporate investigations are just the first point of combined strength.  Over the next 18 to 24 months, we intend to build other practice capabilities in New York that complement our current national practices, including bankruptcy, marketing and advertising, IP, and others."  Venable represents clients such as Marriott International and Yahoo!

"We realize the incomparable value of joining a prominent firm, well established in Washington, with senior attorneys who have worked in all phases of government and who are keenly grounded in investigative and enforcement matters" observed Mr. O'Toole.  Mr. O'Toole focuses his practice on corporate and commercial litigation, as well as investigative labor and employment matters.

According to Mr. Heard, the combination with Venable fulfills his firm's strategic vision, too.  "The attorneys in our firm all earned their stripes in the major New York law firms.  We decided to form our own firm several years ago.  Our ultimate vision was to be the New York office of a well regarded firm with a national or even international platform – one which would enable us to serve our clients with a broad range of capabilities and talented attorneys.  We were looking for a partner firm that would complement our practice and our culture.  We found that match with Venable."   

Venable has grown steadily in recent years, with prominent hires from other major law firms as well as from top-level staff and executive positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Agriculture, Treasury, Justice, and Health & Human Services.  The firm’s partnership includes former high-ranking U.S. Congressmen and Senators. 

According to Mr. Shea, Venable is also looking to expand into California.  "Given the size and national scope of our clients, we've been looking to expand our geographic presence so that we can better serve our clients in these key regions of the country."

Mr. Shea said that the New York market has been in the firm’s sights for some time.  “We have a national and international practice, with substantial business ties in the New York region.  We felt it was important to be able to serve new and existing clients with added capabilities in New York.  With Heard & O'Toole, we're off to a great start.”

One of the American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia. For more, visit www.Venable.com.