Former Morris Nichols attorney Joe Barsalona II will lead the new office of Pashman Stein in Wilmington. | PHOTO COURTESY OF PASHMAN STEIN
WILMINGTON – Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, a growing multi-specialty business law firm, has opened a Wilmington office led by former Morris Nichols attorney Joseph Barsalona II.
Headquartered in Hackensack, N.J., near New York City, Pashman Stein has roughly 80 attorneys at three offices in New Jersey and New York. It recently began looking south to Wilmington as it aims to expand its newly formed bankruptcy, restructuring and creditors’ rights practice, opening an office in the Nemours Building. Pashman Stein has a diverse client base, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to emerging growth entities along with professional athletes, celebrity influencers, fashion models, and more.
Earlier this year, the firm hired John Weiss, a longtime partner at the New York office of AmLaw 100 firm Alston & Bird, to chair its bankruptcy, restructuring and creditors’ rights practice. He and firm chair and managing partner Michael Stein began discussing their growth plans for the firm, and Wilmington was immediately among the targets. For Weiss, it’s a full-circle moment as he began his career at Duane Morris in Wilmington.
“It’s nice to kind of get back to the roots. Wilmington is a hotbed for bankruptcy cases and has remained so since the 2000s,” he told Delaware Business Times. “It was an exciting opportunity to think about building a practice from the ground up from a platform of a well-established firm from a litigation perspective.”
As the news spread that Weiss was moving to the growing firm, Barsalona, who had served with Weiss on a case in Delaware for the last two years, reached out to learn more.
“We had a two-hour conversation on a Friday; I’ll never forget it. And then we were just off to the races,” Barsalona recalled. “The thought of building a practice with my friend and colleague, and to see where this is going … it just was a very easy decision to make.”
The firm offered to bring Barsalona in as a partner and lead their efforts in Wilmington. That southern expansion for Pashman Stein was probably a year ahead of their initial timelines, but they sensed the time was right, Weiss said.
Barsalona, who previously spent three years at Morris Nichols and four at Richards, Layton & Finger, has built a diverse practice focused on restructurings, distressed asset sales, and bankruptcy, working with clients in a variety of industries including hospitality, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, food and beverage, entertainment, energy production, retail, manufacturing, publishing, finance, transportation, and real estate. He also has experience in commercial real estate and works on the preparation and issuance of state and federal legal opinions in connection with real estate financings. Barsalona is also an active member of the American Bankruptcy Institute and currently serves as co-chair of the Bankruptcy Litigation Committee.
The move to Pashman Stein is his first partner-level role, and Barsalona said that he’s settling into the role of leading client acquisition and engagement.
“It’s been a phenomenal two months; the calls are coming in and I’m very excited for the future,” he said.
Stein told DBT that he views Wilmington as a big growth opportunity for his firm, and that he expects to add more attorneys in coming months. Notably, Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings have boomed in Delaware in recent years as firms deal with the fallout of the pandemic, globalization, increased competition and more.
“Our aspirations there are very high, and we really want to develop a very strong presence in that [practice] space,” he said, noting that they don’t have specific hiring targets, but want to add complementary attorneys who will embrace their culture and advance toward their goals.
Pashman Stein becomes at least the seventh out-of-state based firm to open a Wilmington office in the last two years, including fellow New Jersey-based, bankruptcy-focused firm Porzio, Bromberg & Newman. The economic recovery of Delaware’s largest city has hinged in large part on the return of downtown lawyers practicing in the high-profile state and federal courts, while many banks and other office workers have moved workers to remote or hybrid schedules.
Stein said he expected the parade of law firms to continue, especially now that many of them have grown more comfortable running staff remotely through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As you see more and more rethinking what a firm’s geographic scope could be, I do think you’re going to see more and more offices in Wilmington because it is one of the litigation hubs in our country,” he said.