Joan Stern

WASHINGTON — Blank Rome LLP's public finance team is joining Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC in Philadelphia, becoming the firm's only public finance attorneys based in the city, officials said.

Five attorneys from Blank Rome — Joan Stern, Marc Stein, Robert Tuteur, Dacia Haddad and William Benzing III — will start at Eckert Seamans as partners on Feb. 3.

"We are eager to join the ranks of Eckert Seamans' public finance group and feel privileged to join such a highly regarded team of practitioners," Stern said in a news release. "There are many synergies between our practices but also areas where we can expand through collaboration."

Stern represents clients on a wide range of public finance matters. She is the principal drafter of the statute that established the financial oversight authority for Philadelphia. She also was lead bond counsel for two of the largest pension funding bond issues undertaken, according to her bio on Blank Rome's website.

"We are delighted to welcome one of the country's leading public finance practices to the firm," Eckert Seamans' chief executive officer Timothy Ryan said in the release. "Joan Stern is a legend in the public finance arena. The experience, background and existing client base that Joan, Marc, Bob, Dacia and Bill bring to Eckert Seamans enhances our already premier public finance practice, giving us the added size and scope to handle transactions of all types throughout the country."

Eckert Seamans has been looking for a municipal finance practice in eastern Pennsylvania since 1990. The firm currently has 10 attorneys based in other cities, including Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, that comprise its municipal and public finance group, said Harold Balk, chief development officer for Eckert Seamans.

Eckert Seamans was ranked number one among bond counsel firms in Pennsylvania in 2012 by Thomson Reuters, with deal volume of more than $2 billion. Eckert Seamans' clients include municipalities, hospitals, universities and transportation companies in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Blank Rome chairman and managing partner Alan Hoffman said in a statement, "Joan and I had a candid conversation regarding the strategic direction of our firm, and she expressed her sincere excitement about where Blank Rome is headed and our plans for continued growth. We at Blank Rome have had a long and wonderful relationship with Joan - both as a partner and a friend - and we wish her and the other attorneys continued success and look forward to working with them in the future."

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