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Quarles to combine with California law firm Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP

Phoenix Business Journal

Quarles & Brady LLP is set to significantly boost its national footprint with its combination with California-based Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP, a management-side labor and employment law firm.

The deal is set to close on Jan. 1.

The expansion establishes Quarles’ brick-and-mortar presence in California and brings its attorney headcount to about 500 lawyers across 11 U.S. offices. Paul, Plevin, Sullivan is headquartered in San Diego, with 30 attorneys plus 25 other professional services employees on the payroll.

Bradley Vynalek, Phoenix-based president of Quarles, said that the two firms began talking about 14 months ago and that it was quickly determined that the two were a match. Both firms focus on the same industry sectors, including life sciences, technology, research institutions, health care, higher education and labor and employment issues.

“When we think about strategic new locations and breaking into new markets we want to do it on a strong basis so being able to add 30 attorneys is a distinct entrance into the California market as opposed to just growing by one or two attorneys,” Vynalek told the Business Journal. “It’s not just about planting flags. It’s about having a really deep bench of lawyers who can cover all of California.”

Michael Aldana, Quarles’ managing partner and executive committee chair, said in a statement that the firm has had a California strategy in play for some time. The firm did have a couple of attorneys on the ground in California prior to the deal to absorb Paul, Plevin, Sullivan.

More market synergy between Arizona, California

Vynalek said the firm has seen a lot more connectivity between California and Arizona in recent years.

“You have companies from Silicon Valley opening secondary headquarters here; you’ve got executives moving to Arizona and just kind of a flow of opportunity back and forth between Arizona and California that has never been seen before,” Vynalek said. “We’re really excited as a firm to be able to step into that and service our clients even more meaningfully in the California market.”

Paul, Plevin was formed in 1998 by its four founding partners — Richard Paul, Fred Plevin, Michael Sullivan and Joe Connaughton.

Sandy McDonough — currently Paul, Plevin’s managing partner — will co-chair the combined firms’ labor and employment practice group, along with Sean Scullen, who is currently national chair of the Quarles labor and employment practice group. The combined labor and employment practice group has more than 70 lawyers.

Connaughton will serve on the firm’s governing executive committee while Plevin will be office managing partner in San Diego.

The move to absorb the California firm comes just days after Quarles & Brady launched a rebrand under the single name Quarles. In California, the combined firm will operate under the name Paul Plevin Quarles through 2024.

Prior to this latest merger deal to expand into California, Quarles, which is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had approximately 480 attorneys. Besides Milwaukee, Phoenix and Tucson, the firm has offices in Madison, Wisconsin; Chicago; Indianapolis; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and two in Florida: Tampa and Naples.


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