White-collar criminal defense firm Stillman & Friedman PC has joined with national law firm Ballard Spahr LLP in a partnership to help clients navigate the municipal bond market, the firms announced Monday.

“We’re in an era of increased regulation,” William Rhodes, chair of Ballard Spahr’s public finance department, said in an interview. “The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked for greater regulations and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has certainly been busy drafting rules required by Dodd-Frank to help clean up perceived weaknesses in the market.”

Members of New York-based Stillman & Friedman, who have represented public figures, political leaders and Fortune 500 corporations in high-stakes cases such as that of bid-rigging allegations against former UBS managing director Peter Ghavami, will integrate with Ballard to form Ballard Spahr Stillman & Friedman, based in New York. The merged firm will mark the first Ballard office in New York and retain both firm names for at least two years, said Robin Ireland, Ballard’s director of communications.

The partnership fortifies Ballard Spahr’s longstanding public finance capabilities by providing expertise in white-collar investigations and litigation, said Charles Stillman, managing partner and co-founder of Stillman & Friedman. The two firms began discussing a partnership almost eight months ago when a Seattle-based headhunter introduced Stillman to Ballard Spahr chairman Mark Stewart.

“Ballard was a real pioneer in the municipal bond field, and we bring strength of litigation in the field,” Stillman said in an interview. “You could not ignore the fact that the face of the legal landscape is changing, and the idea of having a larger platform from which to deliver legal services, made sense.”

The combined resources strengthen Ballard Spahr’s municipal securities regulation and enforcement group, led by Rhodes and Ballard lawyers M. Norman Goldberger and John Grugan, according to the firm’s statement. Ballard has about 525 lawyers in 14 offices around the country, including New York.

“By having a national platform, I see the kinds of matters we could get involved with could have a broader scope,” Stillman said. “Companies and individuals need to be mindful, aware and prepared to defend decisions and actions that come with living in a highly regulated environment.”

In 2012 Ballard Spahr ranked 25th among bond counsel by volume nationally, credited with $3.6 billion in volume over 97 transactions, according to Thomson Reuters data.

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