By TED CARTER
Different “philosophical beliefs” and “strategic visions” have led to the departure of more than two dozen attorneys from law firm Forman Watkins & Krutz, including former partners Tom Tardy and Alan Perry.
Tardy and more than 30 other attorneys who specialize in toxic tort and product liability litigation have left the firm headquartered in Jackson’s City Centre for Delaware-based Maron Marvel Bradley & Anderson. Twenty-four of the attorneys are working on three floors in City Centre previously occupied by Forman Watkins & Krutz. The others have moved to Maron Marvel offices in New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Perry recently left for Jackson’s Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, where he will continue to practice commercial litigation.
Forman Watkins & Krutz, formerly Forman Perry Watkins Krutz & Tardy, started in Jackson in 1986 with five lawyers and grew to become a national firm with offices in New Orleans, Houston, Detroit and Red Bank, N.J.
Another of the founders, Richard Forman, retired before the recent departures.
Forman Watkins and Maron Marvel firms have a decade-long working relationship, Tardy noted in a press release Maron Marvel issued last week. “For more than 10 years, our group has worked closely with Jim Maron and his team and have gained a healthy respect for them as attorneys and an appreciation for their business plan,” Tardy said. “Their vision and use of technology is aligned with ours, and we look forward to giving Maron Marvel a much larger presence in the Gulf and taking advantage of their multiple offices in the East.”
Marcy Croft, another former Forman Watkins attorney now with Maron Marvel, said after working alongside each other for so long, “It seems like the right time to move and join together and create a national toxic tort firm.”
The move was an amicable one, according to Tardy.
“W.G. Watkins and Fred Krutz are two of my oldest friends,” Tardy said of his former law partners. “We still have many long-standing relationships, and we value that history. It has been a pleasure to practice law with them.”
Walter G. Watkins, one of the firm’s founders, agreed the break up was free of strife but noted it also was in the best interest of Forman Watkins & Krutz.
The departures came after much discussion of the firm’s future over the past several months, according to Watkins.
“It was clear that there were fundamental differences between groups within the firm as to certain philosophical beliefs and strategic vision for the future of the firm,” Watkins said in a press statement.
“Ultimately, these differences were too great to overcome and as a result the parties agreed that those with conflicting beliefs should move forward with another firm,” he said. “The separation was and is amicable, but everyone agreed that their separation from our firm was in their best interest and most importantly in the best overall interest of Forman Watkins.”
Four other attorneys, including veteran commercial and tax law specialist Steve Hendrix, left last week to join Butler Snow’s business department.
Before the departures, Forman Watkins had 85 attorneys, about 60 of whom worked in Jackson.
Meanwhile, the migration of attorneys from Forman Watkins nearly doubles the lawyer head count at Maron Marvel, expanding the firm to 67 lawyers and giving Maron Marvel a presence in New Orleans and Houston. Along with its Wilmington, Del., headquarters, the firm already had offices in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Red Bank and Charleston, S.C.
James J. Maron, founding partner, said the new additions move Maron Marvel Bradley & Anderson closer to a goal to become “the premier mass toxic tort firm in the country,” and called the arrival of the Jackson lawyers “a significant milestone in the evolution of our firm.”