The law firm Phillips Lytle has named Jeffrey Schwartz as the next leader of its Albany office.
Richard Honen, who has been the lead for 15 years, is stepping back to focus on the firm’s tech practice as well as his role as a mentor in the Capital Region startup community.
Honen hired Schwartz in 1998 to work at his small law firm, Honen & Wood. That firm was acquired by Phillips Lytle in 2006, and Honen became the head of the company’s Albany office.
One of Schwartz’s first priorities is to grow the Albany office, which currently has seven lawyers. With such a tight legal labor market, even for high-paying lawyer jobs, a strategy to make that happen quickly would be via acquisition, he said.
“My vision and the firm’s is just a flat-out growth mandate. I am taking meetings as often as I can get them. I want to hire. I want to grow. I’m happy to pay for good talent,” Schwartz said. “I want to double the size. I’d love to acquire a small firm, a small practice group.”
That will help as much of the work in Albany focuses on high-end business dealmaking, something that’s seeing a lot of activity right now, Schwartz said.
“I think the market for legal services overall is shrinking, but for the work we do at the higher end, it’s booming. I can’t get ahead of it,” said Schwartz, who specializes in venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, startups, and corporate and banking law.
That effort is part of the entire Buffalo-based company’s goal of growing by 40 lawyers over the next five years, he said.
In particular, Schwartz would like to hire for diversity, and he’d like to add some young talent.
“Not just to appease my Fortune 50 clients that demand it now, but I do want the legitimate diversity in opinions,” Schwartz said. “I want that sharing of ideas and youth and growth and energy.”
In adding new lawyers, he’d like to expand the firm’s Albany specialties into areas it hasn’t had historically, like cannabis, telecom, cybersecurity and cryptocurrency.
While he’d like to add roughly 10 people, he’s mostly concerned with adding quality talent that can help the firm as it takes on some of the evolving and upcoming markets.
“I just want this to be the landing spot for good, talented people who want to work with good, talented people, who want to be with a strong, stable, growing law firm.”