New law firm taps growing market

Published: Jun. 28, 2010 at 4:36 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2010 at 9:33 PM EDT
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By Heather Sullivan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Why would 15 lawyers leave one of the largest law firms in town and start up their own? They're tapping into a new market that's growing as a result of the bad economy.

15 lawyers left the LeClair Ryan law firm and started a firm called Murphy & McGonigle. After the financial institution meltdown that led to the recession, they're finding more companies need to defend themselves against allegations of financial fraud and government investigations.

The finishing touches are still be placed on their new office in Glen Allen. For now, attorney James Murphy is running the new law firm from an office across the hall. Said Murphy, "We were able to get terrific rental deals in places like New York and Washington and here in Richmond to open up offices. And staffing the firm, we have been inundated with terrific resumes of qualified people."

After the Bernie Madoff pyramid scheme, and financial institution fraud that led to the recession, the government is stepping up regulations. Murphy & McGonigle is finding more companies need legal help. "We do litigation when they get sued. We represent them when they're investigated by the government, the SEC or other agencies of government, and the market opportunity was terrific," explained Murphy.

They're experts because six of the attorneys used to be lawyers for the SEC's Enforcement Division. They don't name their clients, but you'll hear about some cases. Said Murphy, "We're handling a lot of litigation involved in the mortgage area where you may have heard about these mortgages being packaged up and sold and there's a lot of litigation now."

And they expect business to keep growing now that the new Financial Fraud Task Force is based here. Said Murphy, "The SEC, Attorneys General, and Department of Justice have all determined Virginia is the best place to bring cases against public companies when they're going to allege fraudulent conduct because the federal courts of Virginia are known as the 'Rocket Docket.'"

Murphy & McGonigle is outsourcing office expenses like information technology, human resources, and marketing so the lawyers can focus on being lawyers. Murphy says the small staff means they can offer their services for less and gain a competitive edge.

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