Chartwell Law Opens First West Coast Office in Portland

Chartwell Law, founded in Pennsylvania, opened its first office on the west coast last week – and its 23rd overall.

The firm’s expansion is taking a critical step toward becoming a statewide firm after opening an office in Atlanta earlier this year, executives at the 170 law firm said.

Clifford Goldstein, the firm’s chief executive officer, has long viewed California as a potential market for Chartwell to expand, though he said he never found lawyers “the right one”. Additionally, he said he would like to see Chartwell have a presence in Illinois, Michigan and Texas.

Led by veteran insurance attorney David Rossmiller, the Chartwell Portland team brings with them a ledger that made them one of the busiest legal groups at their previous law firm, Seattle-based Betts Patterson Mines, Rossmiller said. Some of the group’s largest customers are State Farm Fire and Casualty and the American Hallmark Insurance Company of Texas.

Commenting on his own practice, Rossmiller said he was “without a doubt” the greatest rainmaker at Betts Patterson. Celestine Davis, executive director of Betts Patterson, declined to comment on the story.

Rossmiller is joined by partners Andrew Gust, Ryan Tarter, Elissa Boyd – who works remotely from Pennsylvania – as well as Dustin Dorsey and two employees as attorneys in the newly established office of Chartwell Law in Portland.

Goldstein said the company recruited Betts Patterson’s team to work on the fastest growing areas within the company’s process-based practice – insurance coverage, commercial disputes, and property and casualty disputes.

“We stumbled upon the group in the northwest,” said Goldstein. “Instead of a strategic plan that defines the state or city, we go where we see synergies with existing customers and where we can find really good people.”

As the highest ranking attorney in the group, Rossmiller is responsible for building client relationships and bringing new business to the group. While not everyone in the group has a hand that Rossmiller brings in in every case, he explains that the collaborative nature explains the group’s loyal customer base.

Despite maintaining solid practice at Betts Patterson, Rossmiller said the group has joined Chartwell to provide customers with access to the company’s 23 offices and provide them with more comprehensive customer services, Rossmiller said.

“We have greater resources with a company with more than 20 offices,” said Rossmiller. “We want to continue to serve the customers we came to Chartwell with and increase the number of services we can offer them … but then also help Chartwell customers who had them before I came here.”

Chartwell Law was founded in Valley Forge nearly 20 years ago as an employee compensation boutique and is aggressively expanding into new geographic areas by recruiting locally based attorneys. The firm’s growth was driven by a strategy of cross-marketing legal services to existing clients, Goldstein said.

“Cross-marketing is something that a lot of companies talk about, but very few do,” he said. “Chartwell has been building a culture of cross-marketing for the last 20 years, where partners go out of their way to help partners do business, rather than for themselves. We are capitalizing on this by finding more places to match our existing customer list can market. We are constantly looking for new business and expanding into a national presence. “

The data gathered by the annual NLJ 500 survey shows that the company has increased its workforce from 100 by about 70 since 2017. In February, the company opened an office in Atlanta to handle insurance coverage analysis and disputes, among other things.

Chartwell Law executives were hoping to hire about two more attorneys over the next six months to keep pace with the growing need for legal services. But Goldstein said he wouldn’t be surprised if it got past that estimate.

“I’ve already received messages from lawyers representing clients who want us to do their work in the Northwest for things like workers’ compensation,” Goldstein said. “I think a couple of lawyers would be needed to run the existing business, but it wouldn’t surprise me that it grows way beyond that as we familiarize eastern clients with our capabilities in the west.”

The goal of the company’s expansion strategy was to “build a critical mass of talent that would enable them to provide a higher level of service and take on larger cases with more national scope,” said Goldstein.

“This has mostly happened with first-party insurance coverage and property disputes,” noted Goldstein. “A certain dynamic builds up in these practice areas.”

He said the surge in weather events and the pandemic are sure to bring new coverage issues that will become the subject of litigation, such as whether the long-term side effects of COVID-19 patients are viewed as a recognizable disability that warrants housing.

“Things have gotten very complicated in the past two years,” said Goldstein. “I think we’re going to see more labor disputes than we thought. … companies that have closed and filed business interruption claims are still a part of it, but I think the longer story will be long-term employment and compensation disputes. “

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