December 3, 2012

Levy & Droney dissolving; lawyers moving to Hinckley

John Droney, senior partner at Levy & Droney

In a major shakeup of Greater Hartford's legal landscape, Farmington law firm Levy & Droney PC will dissolve and the majority of its attorneys — including the two partners the firm is named after — have agreed to jump ship and join the Hartford office of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP on Jan. 1, sources familiar with the deal said.

The deal is not a merger, sources told the Hartford Business Journal. Instead, Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, which is based in Rhode Island and has its Hartford office in the Stilts Building at 20 Church St., invited about 15 lawyers from Levy & Droney to join the firm.

Sources, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, said the Levy & Droney lawyers, including senior partners Coleman Levy and John Droney, have accepted the invitation and will move to the Stilts Building.

Levy, a former owner of the New Britain Rock Cats and an influential figure in the Greater Hartford legal community, and Droney, the politically connected former chairman of the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, will become partners at Hinckley, sources say.

Meanwhile, Levy & Droney PC, which has been in business since 1974, is expected to dissolve, sources say, eliminating a key brand name from the Greater Hartford legal landscape.

Other Levy & Droney attorneys joining Hinckley include partners C. Robert Zelinger and Dane Kostin, both who specialize in banking and finance practices, sources say. In all, about 75 percent of the 20 attorneys listed on Levy's Web site will be moving over to Hinckley.

Officials from both firms would not confirm the deal or provide further details. But rumors of movement have been circulating in legal circles for weeks.

Dan Kleinman, a managing partner at Levy & Droney, said there has been no formal announcement about the deal and declined to comment further. "I don't want to be premature," Kleinman said.

The move will grow Hinckley to about 35 lawyers in Connecticut and more than 150 lawyers across its five Northeast offices of Hartford, Providence, Boston, Albany, N.Y., and Concord, N .H.

Sources with knowledge of the firm's strategy say Hinckley is itching to grow its Hartford presence, and sees the addition of two well-known, politically and civically connected lawyers in Levy and Droney as a major coup.

The move expands Hinckley's real estate, corporate litigation, and government affairs practice areas, in addition to bulking up its Connecticut presence.

Hinckley, Allen & Snyder has been on a hiring binge since opening a Hartford office in 2008. Hinckley got its start in Hartford after luring over 25 attorneys from the Tyler Cooper & Alcorn law firm. That was a similar move to what is now taking place with Levy & Droney.

As part of the 2008 deal, Hinckley added all of Tyler Cooper's financial services professionals and business services partners, as well as eight of its commercial litigation and employment law partners and the trusts and estates department. A number of paralegals, secretaries and other administrative staff also joined with Hinckley at the time.

The addition of the Levy & Droney lawyers is also similar to the 2010 folding of Hartford law firm Pepe & Hazard into New Jersey-based McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP. That deal dissolved the Pepe & Hazard brand, but worked as a retirement plan for Louis Pepe, who founded the firm in 1983.

It's not clear what drove the Levy & Droney lawyers to jump ship to Hinckley, Allen. Sources familiar with the deal say there are no plans for any immediate retirements among senior Levy & Droney lawyers who are making the move.

But sources said mid-size firms like Levy & Droney can have a hard time attracting and retaining lawyers and joining a larger firm allows them a better platform to attract more talent and clients.

The two key players in the deal, of course, are Levy and Droney.

Levy graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1966 and started practicing law in Connecticut the same year. His specialty practice areas are business, real estate and finance. He served as a director for the Hartford County Bar Association and multiple nonprofit organizations, including the New Britain Museum of American Art and the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford.

Earlier this year, Levy sold his stake in the New Britain Rock Cats minor league baseball team.

Meanwhile, Droney is a government affairs attorney and politically active in Greater Hartford, having served as chairman of the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee. He graduated UConn law school in 1973. He is on the board of directors for the UConn Health Center.

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