May 10, 2017

Baltimore Business Journal – George Nemphos has started his own law firm — and it’s growing.

George J. Nemphos is enjoying working for himself — and not having to deal with the politics of a large law firm.

Please click here for original article  – Baltimore Business Journal

Nemphos and partner Tim E. Braue launched their own boutique law firm last September, Nemphos Braue LLC, specializing in corporate law. Nemphos and Braue previously worked together at Duane Morris LLP, where Nemphos helped found the firm’s Baltimore office in 2006 and chaired the global corporate practice group for five years. He resigned in 2015 shortly after being named in a negligence lawsuit that was dismissed later that year.

George Nemphos and Tim Braue launched a boutique law firm specializing in corporate law last September.

After about a year working as an in-house general counsel, and maintaining relationships with some of his previous clients, Nemphos decided to open his own office and eventually invited Braue to join him. The firm provides expertise in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity, and does not do any litigation.

“We want our clients to think of us as more of a member of the team,” Nemphos said. “If they don’t have a general counsel, they can view us as pretty much their general counsel … We want the client to feel that we are a part of the team and not just clicking the meter like the taxi cab driver.”

While Nemphos does not want to talk about the details of what happened at Duane Morris, he says it was a “tough and unfortunate time” but also the “start of something much better.”

The 2015 lawsuit brought by inventor and businesswoman Angela Singleton alleged Nemphos and former Duane Morris attorney Jay Cohen were negligent in representing her interests in a company she founded for her high heel insert inventions, Pique Inc. The lawsuit claimed Cohen and Nemphos had a conflict of interest because they suggested and represented investors who became equity owners in Pique.

Nemphos said his clients haven’t asked him about the lawsuit or expressed any concerns to him. He described the general reaction from the public as “positive” and said people have been supportive of him.

“People are intelligent and people are smart,” Nemphos said. “Big organizations may not be as smart, but people are smart and understand when they see something and know me and know my reputation.”

Braue said Nemphos’ role wasn’t what was originally reported and the whole situation was “unfortunate.”

“Sometimes people are pawns to the politics that take place in big organizations and big law firms, and other people’s ambitions,” Braue said.

Now that he is running his own law firm, Nemphos said he interact more regularly with clients instead of having to travel internationally all the time and dealing with politics.

“I would be remiss and wouldn’t be frank if I didn’t say, yeah, it was definitely a factor in my decision-making as to what I wanted to do going forward with my career and my life,” Nemphos said.

Nemphos and Braue launched their firm located at 100 W. Pennsylvania Ave. in Towson on Sept. 1 with a single assistant. In the past seven months they have added a chief financial officer, two associate attorneys and another assistant. Nemphos said the firm will hire an of-counsel attorney soon.

The firm is also expanding its office space. It currently occupies 2,800 square feet in a downtown Towson office building, and plans to take another 1,200 square feet in the same building.

About 60 percent of the firm’s clients are previous clients of Nemphos and Braue, and 40 percent are new clients. However, Nemphos said about 70 percent of the work on a day-to-day basis comes from the new clients.

The firm has also taken part in some big deals, including representing the group of investors who recently agreed to acquire insurer Evergreen Health.

When they were starting the firm, Nemphos and Braue ran into many of the issues their clients used to tell them about, such as getting internet service set up, designing a logo and even having a hard time buying a copier.

“We learned a lot about what our clients have to do when they start up,” Nemphos said. “As a lawyer, there are times you know what’s going on but don’t think it’s that bad. Now you have empathy for the client. It’s given us a whole new additional perspective with the startups that we have represented.”

Some of the clients offered advice, Nemphos said, and jokingly told the partners, “Now you really know what it’s like.”

“When you’re at a big law firm, everything is done for you,” Braue said. “You show up at office on the first day and have everything you need. You haven’t had to really do anything. Now, we know what it takes. We know the heartaches and hitting yourself on the head because you can’t get a permit.”

Nemphos and Braue said they have no interest in getting acquired by a larger law firm. Combinations in the law firm industry have become increasingly common during the last several years, but the two attorneys said they are enjoying managing their own firm.

“We have been approached already about considering M&A,” Nemphos said. “We smile and say we are enjoying ourselves and doing our thing. I believe that there is always going to be a need and a desire for good, well-respected and talented boutiques within the marketplace. Not every client or individual or company is right for the mega-firms.”

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