Nixon Peabody in Negotiations with Ungaretti & Harris
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Nixon Peabody plans to expand in Chicago by acquiring Ungaretti & Harris.

Summary: Nixon Peabody has expressed intent to acquire Ungaretti & Harris, a Chicago-based law firm.

According to, one of the largest law firms in the United States, Nixon Peabody, has a deal in the works that would allow it to acquire Ungaretti & Harris. By doing so, Nixon Peabody would expand its legal services in the Chicago area.


Nixon is the 70th-largest firm in the nation, and reported $411 million in revenue for fiscal year 2013. The firm has a large office in Boston, and employs over 600 attorneys. According to Wikipedia, it has offices in Europe and Asia as well. In contrast, Ungaretti names fewer than 90 attorneys on its website.

Nixon Peabody wants to create a new image for itself.

If the two firms do reach an agreement, it will be at least early February before the deal is finalized.

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The deal is the latest in a trend of tremendous law firms acquiring smaller Chicago firms to increase their presence in the local market.

Ungaretti & Harris opened its doors in 1974. Its cofounders were Michael Coffield, a renowned litigator, and Richard Ungaretti, a real estate attorney. At the time, Ungaretti had just four years of experience under his belt. Coffield stayed with the practice until the 1990s, and passed away in 2012. Alton Harris, another founder, still practices with the firm. Harris’ specialty is the financial industry.

In 2012, Nixon Peabody closed its Paris office.

Ungaretti focuses on litigation, health care and government, business, and intellectual property. The National Law Journal named it an outstanding midsized firm in 2011, and noted that its health care practice was growing.

However, the firm is currently entangled in a legal fight with Ron Gidwitz, a Chicago businessman and Republican party supporter. Ungaretti sued Gidwitz for failing to pay his $6.4 million legal bill. In response, he countersued the firm, claiming that they overcharged him. Chicago Business adds that Gidwitz called the fees “excessive and unreasonable.”

Read about the dispute here.

Nixon Peabody was created in 1999, the product of a merger between two New England firms that date back to the 1800s. A Chicago office was opened in 2007, luring intellectual property attorneys from the now-defunct Jenkens & Gilchrist.

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In 2012, the managing partner of the Chicago office, Janet Garetto, indicated that the law firm wanted to add practice groups besides intellectual property. The Chicago office has at least 25 attorneys, and now offers dispute resolution, regulatory, corporate, litigation, and transactional services.

A spokesman for the firm said that Nixon Peabody often considers “growth opportunities that are consistent with our objectives.” A spokesman for Ungaretti added, “On an ongoing basis, our firm explores strategies that could potentially benefit our clients and our practice.”

Source: Chicago Business

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