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Cooley strengthens Chicago foothold with DLA Piper dealmaker

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Signage on the exterior of the building where law firm Cooley LLP is located in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

  • Cooley now has 28 lawyers in Chicago, including 14 partners
  • Three of Neal Aizenstein's former DLA Piper colleagues joined Cooley in May

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Sept 1 - Cooley continues to bolster its presence in Chicago, announcing on Wednesday that it has brought aboard the head of DLA Piper's corporate group in the Windy City.

With Neal Aizenstein joining Cooley as a partner, the Chicago office of the Silicon Valley-founded law firm has grown to 28 lawyers, including 14 partners. He works on high-profile transactions involving both public and private companies.

Aizenstein was on the team of DLA Piper attorneys who helped take 3D printing company Fast Radius Inc public earlier this year through a $1.4 billion special purpose acquisition company deal. He also worked on financial services company StoneX Group Inc's $236 million acquisition of GAIN Capital Holdings Inc, an online trading services provider, in 2020.

Aizenstein's arrival at Cooley is a partial reunion of sorts. When the firm moved into in the Chicago legal market in May, it did so with a group of 10 partners, three of whom were from DLA Piper – Gregory Grossman, who became the co-head of Cooley's Chicago corporate group; M&A partner Erin Kirchner; and employment partner Ryan Vann.

"When I learned that they were opening an office in Chicago, it was something that immediately intrigued me. I know many of the initial 10-person corporate team that joined Cooley a little bit earlier this year," Aizenstein said.

"It was such a unique opportunity to work with this team and others and mentor younger attorneys as the Chicago office continues to grow," he added.

Aizenstein spent nearly 10 years at DLA Piper. Prior to that, he spent three years at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and more than 20 years at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, a Chicago-based law firm that merged with London-based Denton Wilde Sapte in 2010, eventually becoming the global behemoth known as Dentons.

Adding a partner like Aizenstein to the firm adds more depth to its M&A practice, said Barbara Borden, the co-chair of Cooley's M&A group.

Aizenstein's arrival at Cooley comes two months after the firm added partners from Kirkland & Ellis, Mayer Brown, and the city's U.S. attorney's office.

A representative for DLA Piper did not respond to a request for comment about Aizenstein's departure.

(CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Barbara Borden is the co-chair of Cooley's M&A Group.)

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Cooley expands new Chicago outpost with partner trio

Cooley makes a big entrance in Chicago, betting on Midwest hub

David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.

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