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March 06, 2019

Drinker Biddle Adds 17-Lawyer Litigation Group Led by Prominent Insurance and Financial Institutions Counsel James Jorden

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP announced today the addition of a team of highly experienced trial and class action lawyers led by veteran insurance and financial institutions lawyer James Jorden. The team boosts the firm’s nationally recognized litigation practice and expands Drinker Biddle’s office count to 13 with the opening of a Hartford, Connecticut location.

Jorden is one of 14 new litigation partners and three associates, all previously with Carlton Fields Jorden Burt P.A. Most members of the team are based in Drinker Biddle’s Washington, D.C., office, with several establishing the new Hartford office.

Jorden and the team have built one of the nation’s pre-eminent litigation and regulatory practices defending financial institutions, life insurers, mutual funds, investment firms and banks in high-stakes matters, including securities, ERISA, RICO and pension cases. The group is particularly well known for its success in fending off class actions, its members having served as lead or co-lead counsel in more than 100 such matters. Jorden has been lead trial counsel in some 50 individual cases that went to trial in federal and state courts, and has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and eight of the federal circuit courts.

“The arrival of Jim Jorden and his talented colleagues presents an enormous opportunity for our firm,” said Drinker Biddle Chairman Andrew Kassner. “The continued expansion of our capabilities for insurance and financial services clients — one of our core sectors, and an area where Drinker Biddle differentiates itself from the competition — is one of our long time strategic objectives. Jim and his partners have an exceptional reputation for serving these key sectors with a national litigation practice that includes work in the capital markets space. This eminently qualified and sharply focused group moves our firm ahead, and everyone at Drinker Biddle looks forward to working with them.”

In addition to their trial, class action and appellate work, Jorden and his team represent clients before the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and numerous state oversight and regulatory agencies. The group has long represented the American Council of Life Insurers, providing amicus briefs on important industry litigation. The lawyers also have experience overseeing complex multidistrict cases and government investigations and enforcement proceedings.

Drinker Biddle’s national insurance litigation group, headed by partner Stephen Serfass, includes more than 50 lawyers representing major life, commercial, health care and other carriers; the firm also maintains a nationally recognized full-service ERISA practice. Serfass noted that the incoming group brings both new relationships and relationships with existing Drinker Biddle clients.

“Beyond their core insurance and regulatory expertise, our new partners have tremendous strength across many areas of litigation, including securities, capital markets, labor and employment, and ERISA actions,” Serfass said. “Their work crosses over into the regulated investment funds space, which will greatly complement our established platform in that area. On multiple levels, they are a perfect fit with our existing litigation assets and bring enhanced experience and skill in serving our financial industry and insurance clients.”

Serfass called Jorden “a franchise unto himself,” and noted the new group brings other all-stars to Drinker Biddle, including Josephine Cicchetti, well regarded in the insurance industry for her work on emerging securities and regulatory issues related to new products, and for advising insurance clients on privacy and cybersecurity matters. Also joining is Frank Burt, who, with Jorden, was formerly a named partner at the firm of Jorden Burt before it merged with Carlton Fields in 2014. Burt has extensive experience managing class actions on behalf of banks, insurers and other financial institutions.

“We have long admired Drinker Biddle’s capabilities across the board, but particularly the firm’s work in insurance, ERISA counsel and financial institutions matters. Over the years, we have formed strong connections with Drinker Biddle’s formidable trial team,” Jorden said. “My colleagues and I are appreciative of the five great years we spent at Carlton Fields, but felt it was time to begin a new chapter. Drinker Biddle has an outstanding litigation and class action platform and offers strengths in capital markets, ERISA, securities, funds and life insurance defense work that enhance our ability to service clients. Plus, the firm has an established national profile in Texas, California, Illinois and other important markets beyond the East Coast. We see an instant alignment and opportunity to take our practice to another level of success in our new home.”

In Washington, D.C., the full roster of incoming partners includes Frank G. Burt, Josephine Cicchetti, James F. Jorden, Roland C. Goss, W. Glenn Merten, Shaunda Patterson-Strachan, Brian P. Perryman, Waldemar J. Pflepsen Jr., Kristen Reilly, Kristin Ann Shepard and Dawn B. Williams.

The Drinker Biddle Hartford location launches with new partners Stephen J. Jorden, Ben V. Seessel and Michael A. Valerio, with Jorden serving as the office’s regional partner in charge.

The firm plans to open a new office in Miami, Florida, in the near future to accommodate several members of the Jorden group.

About Drinker Biddle

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP is a national, full-service law firm with nearly 600 attorneys in 13 U.S. offices and one London office. The firm provides a range of comprehensive legal services in corporate and securities, litigation, government and regulatory affairs, health care, products liability, corporate restructuring, investment management, labor and employment, insurance litigation, intellectual property, employee benefits and executive compensation, environment and energy, white collar defense and corporate investigations, trusts and estates, and real estate. Our clients include public and private businesses that span the Fortune 1000, multinational corporations, startups and companies that are among the most admired in the world.

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