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General News

Peter Angelos’ Law Firm Sold to Three of Firm’s Senior Attorneys

BALTIMORE, MD – The law firm of Peter Angelos was sold to three of the firm’s longtime senior attorneys on March 1, as ordered by a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge, The Daily Record (TDR) reported, noting that “Judge Keith R. Truffer approved the acquisition of the firm on Wednesday [February 28] to attorneys Jay D. Miller, James S. Zavakos, and William G. Minkin, transferring the shares of the firm — 100% of which are owned by Angelos — to the three attorneys.”

“Details of the sale, including the sale’s financial terms, were not disclosed in court documents,” TDR reported, adding that “Angelos, whose personal injury firm won hundreds of millions of dollars in asbestos cases over the years, fell ill in 2018 and became no longer able to practice law.”

“The Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission subsequently petitioned for the appointment of a conservator for his firm, pursuant to Maryland court rules,” TDR reported, pointing out that “Bar Counsel Thomas M. DeGonia declined to comment on the sale,” and “the Baltimore County Circuit Court appointed William J. Murphy as conservator for the firm in January 2023.”

“According to a motion for approval of the firm’s sale filed on Tuesday [February 27], Murphy and his fellow attorneys at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP worked to identify attorneys willing to acquire ownership of the Angelos firm, but after finding no willing purchasers, concluded ‘the only feasible acquiror of the law firm’s entire practice… would be attorneys already affiliated with the Angelos Firm,’” TDR reported, adding that “over the course of ‘many months,’ Murphy monitored and facilitated negotiations of the potential sale to three senior attorneys of the firm, including an off-the-record hearing held before the Baltimore County Circuit Court in November 2023.”

“The motion for approval of the acquisition argued the sale ‘will benefit the clients and ensure continuity of their representation so as to avoid any interruption in their representation and possible adverse effects upon the adjudication of their matters,’” TDR reported.

“We’re very hopeful that this acquisition will result in most of the lawyers and staff staying with the firm and that they’ll be able to retain most of their clients and continue on in the representation of those clients,” Murphy told TDR in an interview on February 29, adding that “Murphy said the acquisition will be conducive to the ‘ongoing success of the firm and to the ongoing success of the litigation on behalf of the clients.’”

“The firm’s more than 20,000 clients are expected to receive notice of the sale after the acquisition has closed via a combination of mail, email and general publication, Murphy said,” TDR reported, noting that “according to American Bar Association rules governing the sale of a law practice, the firm must provide clients with written notice of the proposed sale, among other information.”

“The motion for approval of the sale included a ‘Dear Client’ letter from the incoming firm owners, announcing their acquired ownership of the firm,” TDR reported, adding that the letter read: “It has been our privilege to have worked with and to have been mentored by Mr. Angelos for many years, and we intend to carry on his legacy and his commitment to fight for the rights of clients, a commitment that he instilled in us as we worked side by side with him over the course of our careers.”

“The letter specifies there will be no change to clients’ contingency fee arrangement,” TDR reported, noting that “according to the order approving the sale, the three attorneys who will assume ownership of the firm are seeking approval from the Maryland Supreme Court to continue using the name of ‘The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos’ for at least three years.”

“The firm’s acquisition marks the end of a chapter in the Angelos family legal dispute,” TDR reported, adding that “Louis Angelos, son of Peter Angelos, ran his father’s firm from 2018 until 2023 when Murphy stepped in as the firm’s court-appointed conservator.”

“Prior to the conservatorship, Louis claimed that his father intended for him to take over firm operations and claimed to have sold the firm to himself, but Georgia and John Angelos, his mother and brother, opposed his efforts,” TDR reported, noting that “Georgia and John claimed Peter Angelos intended for the firm to be shut down after he could no longer run it.”

“The parties reached an agreement privately in January 2023, with Louis agreeing to nullify his purchase of the firm,” TDR reported, adding that “most recently, the Angelos family has agreed to sell the Orioles to David Rubenstein for $1.725 billion, flipping Peter Angelos’ $173 million purchase of the team in 1993. The sale has not been finalized.”

“Angelos opened his practice in 1961 after graduating from the University of Baltimore School of Law,” TDR reported, noting that “in addition to building his law firm into a powerhouse for asbestos-related litigation, the firm represented Maryland in its lawsuit against the tobacco industry, recovering a $4.5 billion settlement in 1998.”

At press time, “Gregg Bernstein, counsel for the firm, declined to comment,” TDR reported, adding that “Jay D. Miller declined to comment, citing confidentiality reasons.”

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