- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2001

Three attorneys showed that start-ups aren't just for the technology world when they began operations at their new law firm last week.

Like any good techie with a dream, Scott D. Gilbert, John E. Heintz and Jerry Randolph left their firms to open their own shop.

Mr. Gilbert, who came from Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky, and Mr. Heintz, formerly of Howrey Simon Arnold & White, are old friends. They brought in Mr. Randolph from a firm in Cincinnati.

"[Mr. Gilbert] and I have bandied about this idea on and off for 10 years," Mr. Heintz says.

The firm will target clients involved in mass liability suits actions over asbestos, lead paint, or breast implants, for example.

"It all centers on this focal problem of corporations who are facing a large financial exposure as a result of a mass tort situation," Mr. Heintz says.

Gilbert Heintz & Randolph has hired 11 partners and 13 associates, some of them away from the partners' old firms. But Michael Nannes, a deputy managing partner at Dickstein Shapiro, said Mr. Gilbert's departure was unusually amicable in a legal world that is typically very competitive.

Mr. Gilbert came to the firm's higher-ups and told them he had a dream of owning his own firm, Mr. Nannes says.

"He did that, and he did it with tremendous decency and class … We support that, and expect that our firms will be working together for years to come," he says.

For his part, Mr. Heintz says he was happy at his old firm, but figured it was time to fulfill his other goals. He had been with Howrey Simon for 10 years, and wanted a smaller, more custom environment than what the 400-attorney company could provide.

"I would not have left them to go to another large firm," he says.

The new firm has hired negotiators, litigators and bankruptcy specialists, and is concentrating on four areas complex dispute resolution, insurance coverage settlements and litigation, insurance and risk management, and strategic bankruptcy representation.

Mr. Heintz says the founding partners' goal is to create a different kind of firm because of its size and approach.

The company will also not focus as heavily on billable hours as other firms, he says.

"We are stressing that we do not want to measure a lawyer's contribution by his or her grinding out the hours."

The key will be providing effective service to the client, he says.

"My colleagues would say, 'Easier said than done,'" he jokes.

The firm officially opened last Tuesday at 1350 I St., NW.

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