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MD Daily Record: Weiner, Rifkin to merge firms

MD Daily Record: Weiner, Rifkin to merge firms

May 15, 2013

Maryland Daily Record
By Melody Simmons

05.13.13- BALTIMORE, MD- Attorney's Arnold Weiner and Alan Rifkin shown here together for a story about their firms merging together. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

05.13.13- BALTIMORE, MD- Attorney’s Arnold Weiner and Alan Rifkin shown here together for a story about their firms merging together. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Arnold M. Weiner and Alan M. Rifkin will merge their firms effective July 1, creating Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver LLC.

Maryland powerhouse attorneys Arnold M. Weiner and Alan M. Rifkin announced Tuesday that they are merging their legal practices.

The new firm, to be called Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver LLC, will have 30 attorneys working in offices in Baltimore, Annapolis, Bethesda and Upper Marlboro.

“This was so natural that it was meant to be,” said Rifkin, 55, during an interview in Weiner’s office in the North Baltimore community of Clipper Mill.

The two first met in 1981 when Rifkin, then a student at the University of Maryland School of Law, enrolled in Weiner’s mandatory trial practice class. Rifkin graduated in 1982.

Since then, their litigation careers have united on several occasions over the past decade as co-counsel, leading to talks within the past month of a more formal union as Rifkin’s firm will formally acquire Weiner’s firm on July 1.

“In law, there are precious few people whose judgment you can count on,” said Weiner, 79. “It’s important to have someone you can share your confidence in, and Alan has been that person.”

One of the state’s most prominent trial attorneys, Weiner’s client list has included former Baltimore Mayor Sheila A. Dixon, former Gov. Marvin Mandel, former Rep. Edward Garmatz and the trustee for Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc., for whom he obtained a record-setting $185 million settlement in 1999.

He began his career in 1962 as a principal and president with Melnicove, Kaufman, Weiner & Smouse P.A. That firm disbanded in 1989 and, over the next 18 years, Weiner combined forces with many well-known lawyers — among them, Stephen L. Snyder and Robert Weltchek, with whom he represented Merry-Go-Round’s bankruptcy trustee in the settlement with accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP.

He formed his own law firm, the Law Offices of Arnold M. Weiner, in 2007.

Rifkin opened his present firm based in Annapolis, Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver LLC, three decades ago as a solo practitioner focused on government relations and administrative law.

The firm has grown to 25 attorneys today with other offices in Upper Marlboro and Bethesda.

Representing a group of downtown area business owners, Rifkin this year won a controversial legal challenge to the state’s ambitious development plans for State Center in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

Judge Althea Handy ruled on Jan. 19 that competitive bids should have been sought for the $1.5 billion project by the state. The state’s failure to do so violated its own procurement laws and rendered the Master Development Contract and ground leases for the development null and void, Handy ruled.

The state filed a petition with the Maryland Court of Appeals, which has agreed to hear the case this fall.

Rifkin has also represented clients that include the Baltimore Orioles, Maryland Jockey Club — and, with Weiner, MASN, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

Snyder, now the head of The Snyder Litigation Team in Baltimore, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that having Weiner as a partner is “an extremely important asset from the standpoint of respect amongst his peers and the quality of the work that he puts out.”

“Anyone who gets Arnold as a partner is lucky,” Snyder said. “He brings legal talent, great writing abilities, name recognition, and respect among the judiciary. He is a lawyer’s lawyer.”

Larry S. Gibson, of counsel at Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler, said he has always regarded Weiner as “the most complete lawyer I know.”

“He’s a good writer, good verbally and his analytical abilities are outstanding,” said Gibson, who, along with William H. “Billy” Murphy Jr., also represented the Merry-Go-Round trustee. “And Rifkin is a fantastic lawyer. I know him mainly in the context of government relations. You put those two together, and that’s a real powerhouse.”

Gibson also said Weiner is “a young 79.”

“I have seen no evidence that Arnold Weiner is slowing down,” he said.

Retired Court of Appeals Judge Irma S. Raker said Tuesday the merger would result in a formidable firm.

“They are great lawyers and nice guys and clients will be well served,” she said. “When you look at the experience and demeanor and personalities, this is going to be quite a firm. Arnold is vibrant and charismatic and energetic and experienced. He is respected by the bench and the bar. And the Rifkin lawyers are talented, and have broad experience. So you put the two firms together, and clients will be well served.”

Rifkin said the new firm would hit the ground running, focusing on a variety of cases that include a national product liability suit, a regional cable television dispute between the Orioles and the Washington Nationals, and an international class action against the government of Hungary and the Hungarian National Railroad stemming from the mistreatment of Jews around World War II.

The Baltimore office will remain at Weiner’s current location in Clipper Mill.

“We practice law in a very detailed way,” said Rifkin, of why he and Weiner work well together. “Part of our cachet is that we take apart a case piece by piece and put it back together. We view things from a macro level.

“This is our view — that two plus two here makes 10. We’ll be interested to see where it goes.”

Daily Record legal affairs writer Beth Moszkowicz contributed to this story.

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