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Stueve Siegel brings its contingency model to New York


Kansas City-based firm Stueve Siegel Hanson has opened on Broadway.

The firm added a New York office Oct. 1, making a lateral hire from a firm with which it collaborates on cases.

“We are going to start with one attorney, and see how it grows organically,” said name partner Norm Siegel. The firm sees New York as an ideal market for its contingency-based business litigation model.

Stueve’s man in New York is Darren Kaplan, formerly a partner at New York-based class action firm Chitwood Harley Harnes. Kaplan had worked with Stueve on cases in the past and caught the firm’s eye.

“Over the years we had worked with Chitwood on a couple of bank fraud type cases. Most recently we’d worked together on automated clearing house transfers for payday loans. It really solidified our confidence in Darren,” Siegel said.

Expressing excitement about his move to Stueve, Kaplan said, “I have always admired their ethics and work.”

As of counsel, he will be a lone wolf heading up the New York office, located on Broadway in midtown Manhattan, south of Times Square. Kaplan has litigated in the areas of corporate governance, investor rights, securities fraud and consumer protection.

Siegel characterizes Kaplan’s leaving Chitwood Harley as amicable, noting the firms continue to work on some cases together.

Reached at Chitwood Harley’s Atlanta office, Martin D. Chitwood expressed the hope Kaplan’s move will actually facilitate further collaboration. “We like the Stueve Siegel firm very much,” he said.

“He’s a wonderful attorney. We’re sorry to see him go,” Chitwood said.

Chitwood knew about the move months ago, when Kaplan let him know he’d been in talks with Stueve Siegel. “It’s all very cozy,” Chitwood said.

Kaplan’s practice in New York will be like Stueve’s other ventures: primarily contingency work. Siegel estimated that 99 percent of his firm’s work is on a contingency basis. The lawyers bill hourly only for existing clients in one-off situations where a creative contingency framework cannot be found.

Some smaller companies prefer the contingency model because they cannot afford an hourly attorney, Siegel said. Since establishing their firm in 2001, Stueve has made inroads with larger companies, such as Seaboard Company and Associated Wholesale Grocers, and Fortune 500 companies. Keeping its caseload diverse helps the firm bring in consistent revenue from quarter to quarter, Siegel said. He wouldn’t elaborate beyond that.

“Our model is dependent entirely on bringing success to your client. We need someone who understands the dynamics of contingency practice and are willing to take on the risk with the client,” Siegel said.

Stueve is not actively recruiting attorneys, or looking to expand any of its offices, Siegel said. When firm principals meet an attorney who is on board with the contingency model, has the willingness to take risk, then the firm will have a conversation with that person. “We are opportunistic,” Siegel said.

For now, New York is just Kaplan. He brings the litigation firm to 29 lawyers, based on a count from its website. Stueve Siegel ranked 36th in The Firms, Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s law firm rankings based on full-time equivalent in-state attorneys for fiscal 2013.

Additional reporting by Richard Gard