Venable partner Matt McLaughlin was interviewed in a March 28, 2017, Law360 article on best practices for law firms looking to establish themselves in the New York legal market. McLaughlin, who currently serves as Partner-in-Charge of the New York office, was one of the original attorneys who opened Venable's New York office in 2005 with the acquisition of litigation firm Heard & O'Toole LLP. Since opening with 12 attorneys, the office has grown steadily to more than 90 attorneys today.
"It's been a very strong, successful run since then," said McLaughlin. "From a standing start, we grew a new real estate group as well as bankruptcy, intellectual property, and corporate [groups]. We grew cautiously, patiently, slowly, never bolting on a large number of people." He compared entering the New York market to "bringing sand to the beach," adding, "Firms need to understand that they're not going to just throw the doors open and expect lateral partners and clients to rush in. They need to be ready for a long-term play. The single greatest virtue, I think, in growth for an outside firm in New York is patience."
McLaughlin cautioned that being aggressive and proactive, qualities that make a good attorney, can backfire when growing a law firm. "Firms need to know it’s risky to tell the 10 lawyers that opened the office, 'Here's 10 to 15 new colleagues you need to get to know.' That creates discord."
To help firms break into the crowded New York market, McLaughlin suggested they take an innovative approach to management. "The richest soil you can till is friends and colleagues in big New York offices of big firms who feel strangled by their management and the giant bureaucracy of their firm." He said he knows partners who have "thrived" at Venable after joining from large New York firms because of the firm's limited bureaucracy and management's light-handed approach.