A Philadelphia Stalwart

By staff writer

March 2019

Philadelphia’s legal sector has been one of its strengths for decades. Firms are expanding their Philadelphia presence or entering the market, whether through mergers, acquisitions or opening new offices. Philadelphia stalwart Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP, on the other hand, has always known the City of Brotherly Love is the place to be for law firms. Founded in 1904, Obermayer has been a part of the community longer than the cheesesteak. Just like the city itself, Obermayer is going strong and seeing a lot of growth.

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added a new tax provision to the Internal Revenue Code, which aims to provide big capital gains tax breaks to real estate and business investors who make investments in certain economically underdeveloped areas known as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs),” Obermayer’s managing partner, Mathieu Shapiro, told Invest: Philadelphia.  “Against this backdrop, our interdisciplinary Real Estate & Construction team has been addressing the increasing needs of real estate investors and developers seeking to take advantage of these tax breaks.”

Obermayer’s growth mirrors Philadelphia’s nicely. Real estate and construction are two booming sectors for the city that show no signs of decreasing over the next year. Philadelphia is growing as a tech hub as well, and of course with all of this innovative technology comes the challenges of privacy and security. Obermayer has that covered.

“More and more, companies are seeking to protect their proprietary information — which could mean a secret formula, client lists, or even the magic mix they use to make their pricing work,” Shapiro told Invest:. “We are increasingly guiding clients across a range of activities: maintaining confidentiality, drafting effective agreements, investigating potential misconduct, gathering evidence of misconduct and, if necessary, commencing legal action.”

Cybersecurity is also a growing area for the city and the firm. For Obermayer, the commercial litigation team is protecting corporations and helping their businesses remain competitive.

“The advent of technology and innovation in the region has ushered in an increasing level of cybersecurity issues that keep our corporate clients across the board awake at night,” Shapiro said. “As such, we help more and more clients remain competitive by helping them overcome these challenges every day.”

A “Philadelphia lawyer” is someone who knows the most detailed and minute points of law or is an exceptionally competent lawyer. With their growth and longstanding history in the city, it is clear that Obermayer is a firm of Philadelphia lawyers leading Philadelphia’s growth.

For more information about our interviewees visit: https://www.obermayer.com/

Growing dimension

How the legal industry is evolving in a dynamic, post-recession economy

Cesar Alvarez Senior Chairman – Greenberg Traurig, LLP

How has the notion of “legal expertise” evolved since the Great Recession?

The legal industry is quickly changing and the value an attorney provides is more than about knowledge of legal statutes. The focus has to be on understanding a client’s business and how to solve problems—not just legal ones. The problems a client may encounter will have many facets, and a good attorney should always seek to serve as the quarterback. You want to become the first person the client consults to strategize on finding a solution. This flexible and dynamic approach is what attorneys today need in order to be competitive.


Given these trends, how do you see the legal industry changing in the medium term?

Technology has been the most disruptive factor shaping the legal industry. It starts with setting the expectations that clients have of our ability to provide immediate answers and also serves as an invaluable source of information. As technology evolves, it also presents new business opportunities as our clients face concerns about cybersecurity, white collar defense and related regulatory investigations.

These new challenges are touching everyone, including government, financial institutions, retailers, internet merchants, major corporations and consumers. Looking forward, we will be deploying our efforts to engage clients in these areas, where we have tremendous expertise.

How can you utilize technology to help drive change in the legal industry?

With more than 1,950 lawyers around the world, every attorney at Greenberg Traurig has a unique knowledge base. We need to better access that knowledge base in real time to meet the demands of clients looking for instant answers to solve their problems. We can learn from the Uber model how to utilize technology to instantly match a client with the right attorneys and expertise. Exactly what that is going to look like, I don’t know yet. But we can’t simply tweak the old model. We have to adapt our linear way of thinking to create a new non-linear approach that will work well into the future.

In crafting a growth strategy for a “big law” firm like Greenberg Traurig, what must be considered?

In 2015, Greenberg Traurig saw significant expansion, adding about 150 attorneys to our rosters and boosting our international capabilities. We opened a new office in Berlin, and grew our Warsaw and Mexico City offices, along with additional and important expansion throughout our existing U.S. offices. But it’s not just about growth for growth’s sake. We only look to add lawyers if it’s strategic growth that adds additional quality expertise and resources that align with our existing platform. For instance, hiring a specialist in a niche area, like complex real estate tax law would be leveraging and allow us to more comprehensively service our clients. For a firm our size, two and two must always add up to more than four.