Sonnenscheins NY takes on 17 Cooperman Levitt lawyers

Leading Chicago firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal has boosted its New York capability by swallowing the bulk of East Coast practice Cooperman Levitt Winikoff Lester & Newman.

The recruitment of 17 of the firm’s 23 lawyers, including founding partners Jack Levitt and Robert Winikoff, boosts Sonnenscheins’ New York office to 50 fee-earners.

The firm will also benefit from a range of new clients. The lawyers will take with them two of the US’s biggest cable operators, Insight Communications and Mediacom Communications, as well as terrestrial group Young Broadcasting.

The other partners joining Sonnenscheins are David Newman (commercial), Ira Roxland (corporate), Allen Reiter (commercial) and Frances Kleiner (corporate and finance).

Helise Harrington (corporate) and Joseph Schmitt (securities) are joining as ‘of counsel’, the US equivalent of salaried partner, along with nine associates.

Three partners and three associates will not make the move to Sonnenscheins from M&A specialist Cooperman Levitt and instead will form a new firm. They will remain in New York and will practise under the name of Cooperman Lester Miller.

The original intention had been for the entire firm to merge with Sonnenscheins. But Winikoff, senior corporate partner at Cooperman Levitt, says the Long Island partners felt their practice would not suit an international firm.

But he says: “In this age of consolidation we found that we really could use a bigger and better platform with more resources.” He adds that the Chicago firm’s national and global provision is “a perfect fit for our attorneys and clients”.

The recruits will focus on technology and media. Sonnenscheins chairman Duane Quaini says that client needs drove the decision to bolster the New York technology practice.

He adds that the group will bring “significant strength and momentum to the growth of our New York office”.

The lawyers intend to move into Sonnenscheins’ Manhattan offices by mid-September.