CHICAGO — Seattle-based Perkins Coie LLP has hired a trio of public finance attorneys who will work out of the firm's Chicago office to help expand its health care business.

Dan Coyne, James Carroll and Christine Biebel joined Perkins Coie from O'Keefe, Lyons & Hynes LLC, a small Chicago-based firm with about 10 attorneys.

The three attorneys started at Perkins last week. Coyne, the group's head, joined the firm after 34 years at O'Keefe.

"We had an opportunity to work from a larger base from here and we have more opportunity to grow the practice with the firm's existing practice," Coyne said in a telephone interview Friday. "It's a better platform to service our existing clients."

Carroll and Biebel had both been at O'Keefe since 1999.

The attorneys serve as borrowers' counsel rather than bond counsel.

Their biggest client is St. Louis-based Ascension Health, the nation's largest nonprofit health care provider, which they have represented as borrowers' counsel since the system's inception in 1999.

Also on the group's client roster is Provena Health, DePaul University and Daughters of Charity National Health System in California.

In addition to health care, the group services borrowers ranging from higher-education institutions to social service agencies and most nonprofits in between, according to Coyne.

"Focusing on borrowers has been a nice little niche that we have developed and it's important," he said. "Bond counsel is bond counsel, and they are generally excellent across the board. But their primary interest isn't the borrower — it's not their client. We have the expertise and experience to strategically improve and protect the interests of the clients."

In addition to transaction-based work, the group acts as consultants for borrowers. Compliance issues, for example, have become more important to providers since the Internal Revenue Service began requiring them to file Form 990 Schedule Ks every year if they financed projects with 501(c)(3) bonds that are still outstanding.

"It's a complex field that requires a certain level of expertise to adequately advise borrowers," Coyne said.

The hires marks the first time in four years that Perkins Coie has brought on a new public finance attorney.

The firm opened an office here in 2001 when its largest client, the Boeing Co., relocated its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago.

"The addition of these three prominent finance lawyers to our existing well-known bond lawyers such as Bill Corbin and tax specialist Marc Oberdorff makes our Chicago office home to one of the leading bond groups in the Midwest," Bruce Bonjour, chairman of the firm's public finance group, said in a statement.

Perkins has 14 public finance attorneys, 10 of whom are located in Chicago. It employs one public finance attorney in both Denver and Washington, D.C., and two in Seattle.

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