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February 27, 2009 2:01 PM

Sonnenschein to Shutter Charlotte Office

Posted by Ross Todd

Less than two years after Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal announced the opening of its Charlotte office, partners voted this afternoon to close up shop in the battered banking center. The decision affects 11 lawyers and eight staff members.

Sonnenschein chair Elliott Portnoy broke the news in a firmwide e-mail just before 2 p.m., Friday; the decision was voted on by the firm's equity partners earlier in the day. The Charlotte office partners delivered the news to the associates and staff in that office.

In his statement, Portnoy cited "local marketplace realities, the declining demand for legal services in the Charlotte legal and financial markets, and the needs of our financial institution clients" for the move. Some lawyers will be offered the chance to relocate while others will receive severance packages. The closure will take effect April 1.

Sonnenschein opened its Charlotte office in April 2007 with three lateral partners from Kilpatrick Stockton--John "Jay" Suhr, Jr., Jonathan Nugent, and James Tucker. They were joined at the time by two counsel and 13 associates. The group specialized in "the origination of commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) loans," according to the press release that announced their arrival. The group handled capital markets work for regional financial service clients Wachovia and Bank of America as well as clients in New York. The firm has discussed relocation with the three partners; no decision has been made yet about their future at Sonnenschein. 

Besides the capital markets practice, Sonnenschein's Charlotte office was also home to a small litigation group. In December 2008, white-collar partner Jonathan Vogel left the firm for McGuireWoods.

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