When Zuckerman Spaeder adds Mitra Hormozi, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, to its roster of partners next week, the Washington-based firm will have 16 lawyers in its New York office, up from three in the fall of 2011 when Steven Cohen was brought on board to build a team that could attract high-level appellate work, investigations, complex civil litigation and white-collar defense and advisory work.
Hormozi, a former prosecutor and chair of the state Commission on Public Integrity, follows close behind Barbara Jones, also a former prosecutor who left the Southern District bench after 17 years to join the firm last month.
Among the recent recruits to Zuckerman Spaeder's New York office are, from left, Mitra Hormozi, James Sottile and Barbara Jones. NYLJ/Rick Kopstein
In fall 2011, Cohen, who is leading the firm's office expansion in New York, wooed Paul Shechtman of Stillman Friedman & Shechtman, who served as the top criminal justice advisor to Governor George Pataki; and Andrew Tomback, a former senior advisor to the undersecretary for enforcement at the Treasury Department who joined from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.
Meanwhile, partner James Sottile, who focuses on commercial litigation, including bankruptcy and insurance matters, relocated to New York last year from the firm's Washington office.
The current team, said Cohen, is the "culmination of months of strategic planning" to bring in partners with experience in the Southern District and Eastern District, as well as in state and federal government, who span a few generations in their legal careers.
Cohen eschews firm labels that focus on one particular practice area and said the firm isn't trying to fill a certain niche in the market.
"There's a kind of sophisticated law that's practiced where you're dealing with complex issues, involving litigation and investigations," he said. "The mistake of the last 30 years in the practice of law has been the over emphasis of specialization. There are times when you need a specialist, but in most instances, when you're involved in a litigation, specialization doesn't help and specialization might hurt."
Cohen, former secretary to Governor Andrew Cuomo and chief of staff when Cuomo was attorney general, said he is expecting to hire one or two more partners this year in New York.
"I'll relax a little" when the head count is above 20, he said, adding that he is not looking for an office with more than 35 lawyers.