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June 13, 2011 4:54 PM

Report: Denver Firm to Fold at End of the Month

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: 6/14/11, 11:45 a.m. Isaacson Rosenbaum has confirmed in a press release that it will close on June 30. 3:00 p.m. Ryley Carlock will double the size of its Denver office by picking up 12 Isaacson Rosenbaum lawyers, according to Law Week Colorado.

After seeing its head count drop to less than 35 lawyers, Isaacson Rosenbaum will close its doors at the end of June, according to Law Week Colorado, via The Denver Post.

The 50-year-old Denver general practice firm has struggled since the financial crisis took hold in 2008, and has recently suffered significant partner losses to Am Law 200 shops, including real estate partner Neil Oberfeld's move to Greenberg Traurig last month and litigation partner Byeongsook Seo's defection to Gordon & Rees in March.

Reached by phone Monday, Isaacson Rosenbaum CEO Lawrence Donovan, Jr., told The Am Law Daily that he could not confirm or deny the media reports about his firm's potential demise, but that he hoped to issue a press release by the "end of today" or in the "near future" spelling out what lies ahead for the firm.

Law Week reports that an office lease in Denver that Isaacson Rosenbaum signed shortly before the economic downturn three years ago committed the firm to 34,000 square feet of expensive space just as commercial real estate rents in the city began to plunge. (The Am Law Daily caught up in March with a law firm lease expert on the importance of finding the right space.)

Word of Isaacson Rosenbaum's looming closure comes on the heels of a report last month by Law Week that the firm's partners had voted to remain open for business despite the collapse of merger talks with Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, a Phoenix-based firm with a sizable presence in Denver.

Isaacson Rosenbaum was formed in 1961 by the late Charles Rosenbaum, according to a history of the firm on its Web site. As a Jewish lawyer seeking to practice in Denver in the early 1920s, the firm's history notes, Rosenbaum could only try a case if he hired a Ku Klux Klan lawyer as cocounsel.

More recently, the firm served as local counsel to the Democratic National Committee during the August 2008 convention at which Barack Obama was officially nominated as the party's presidential candidate, according to a previous report by The Am Law Daily. (Ex-public policy partner Michael Feeley, a former Democratic minority leader of the Colorado senate, left Isaacson Rosenbaum later that year for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.)

Isaacson Rosenbaum, which began laying off staff earlier this month, is just one of several smaller firms to either close or merge with larger rivals lately. On Monday, for instance, Boston real estate boutique Dionne & Gass merged with Saul Ewing, while Houston litigation boutique Abrams Scott & Bickley was absorbed by Blank Rome last week.

Elsewhere in Denver, The Am Law Daily reported last week on a string of lateral losses from Holme Roberts & Owen. (There is no indication that Holme Roberts, which is in the midst of reorganizing its operations, is considering closing or merging with another firm.)

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