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McKool Smith Partners Leave to Form Insurance Recovery Practice

Jan. 5, 2021, 10:07 PM

Four McKool Smith insurance recovery partners led by Robin Cohen have started a new firm, Cohen Ziffer Frenchman & McKenna, in New York.

The effort includes McKool Smith’s Adam Ziffer, Kenneth Frenchman, and Keith McKenna, and the new practice has more than 20 lawyers and staff, according to the firm’s Tuesday announcement.

“This was the right time to start our own firm,” said Cohen, the firm’s chair. “Our tight-knit team has never been stronger, and the issues confronting our clients have never been more consequential.”

The announcement of the McKool Smith exits come after patent litigation partner Scott Cole left this week to join Quinn Emanuel’s new Austin office. Also this week, Gayle Klein, the former co-chair of McKool Smith’s financial litigation practice, left to join Schulte Roth & Zabel’s New York-based litigation group.

“I understand as well as anyone the impetus and excitement about creating one’s own firm,” said Mike McKool, founder and chairman of McKool Smith. “It’s what we did 30 years ago. I’m sure Robin and her team will have success, and we at McKool Smith wish them the best.”

McKool Smith is known for intellectual property cases, including a $506 million patent infringement verdict last year against Apple Inc. Other trial wins include a jury verdict worth more than half billion dollars for Warren Pumps LLC in an access to asbestos coverage case.

The firm announced a hire last month, as Nicholas Matich, former acting general counsel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, joined McKool Smith’s intellectual property practice.

The new firm, in its announcement, said partners will bring in corporate clients including Pfizer Inc., Spirit Airlines, Philips Electronics, Madison Square Garden, Celanese, Willis Towers Watson and Putnam Investments.

“The practice is booming,” Cohen said.

Cohen led McKool Smith’s insurance recovery practice, which won a court victory on flood limit clauses that allowed the New Jersey Transit Corp. to access up to $400 million in coverage after Superstorm Sandy. That verdict is on appeal.

Last year, the group expanded to handle a wave of Covid-related business interruption claims from policyholders around the country. Cohen said that the practice has expanded internationally as more U.S.-based companies are seeking recovery for losses abroad, and some foreign-based entities, such as hotel corporations, are seeking to cover losses stemming from Covid at their U.S. businesses.

Cohen and her team worked together first at Dickson Shapiro then Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman before moving in 2016 to McKool Smith.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Olson at egolson1@gmail.com
To contact the editor on this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloombergindustry.com;
John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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