Shook debuts St. Louis workplace, poaching poisonous torts staff

The St. Louis Arch can be seen in the St. Louis, Missouri skyline, January 13, 2016. REUTERS / Tom Gannam

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(Reuters) – Shook, Hardy & Bacon announced Thursday the opening of its second new office of the year – and its 17th overall – landing in St. Louis with the addition of 10 environmental and poison crime litigation attorneys from a local company.

Drey Cooley, Lisa DeBord, Michael Cromwell, Adam Miller and Sue Werstak have joined Shook as a partner in his environmental and poison law practice. They are moving from St. Louis-based Capes Sokol, leaving the midsize law firm with about 34 lawyers remaining, according to their website.

The five partners will be accompanied by associates Rachel Berland, Katie Landfried, Chelsea Mannery and Kayla Solomon, counsel Daniel Blakey and five paralegals, all by Capes Sokol, Shook said.

The team has worked with Shook lawyers for years, Werstak said.

“It made sense for us to be under one roof in St. Louis,” said David Erickson, co-chair of Shook’s Environmental and Toxic Offenses Practice Group.

The size of Shook – the Kansas City, Missouri-based law firm had 501 attorneys in 2020, according to American Lawyer figures released this month – also means an opportunity for Werstak and her Capes Sokol colleagues to expand their client base.

“Having the opportunity to help Shook grow its platform has been a really great opportunity for our team,” said Werstak.

The new team is already working hard. Miller said in a statement that he will be hearing a case with fellow Shook attorneys in Seattle this week.

In a statement, Capes Sokol called the departures a “smart strategic move” for all parties involved, saying the outgoing team has “close practice almost entirely related to defending polychlorinated biphenyls or PCB matters” which it is expanding have no interest.

The company also announced rapidly growing sales over the past decade and a recent move to new office space.

“The departure of the lawyers will give us the additional space we need to grow in a way that best suits the needs of our clients,” said Capes Sokol, wishing the group all the best for the move.

Shook’s expansion into St. Louis comes less than five months after opening the New York office with two trial lawyers from Phillips Lytle of Buffalo. Last month, virtual technology transaction boutique Ragen Swan added it to its Seattle office.

“We weathered the pandemic period well and started full steam ahead into 2021 in the Northeast, Northwest and now the Midwest,” Shook Chair Madeleine McDonough said in a statement.

Shook is one of those law firms that take a flexible approach to bringing attorneys back into the office. McDonough told Reuters last month that four of the Shook offices – Kansas City, Houston, Chicago, and Miami – will be running a summer personal affiliate program to serve as a test run for a full-fledged return.

Continue reading:

Career Tracker: Virtual companies reach an industry milestone with sustained new hires

Another Zoom Summer? Companies reconsider affiliate programs as COVID-19 restrictions lift

Shook adds New York office and continues US expansion

David Thomas

David Thomas reports on the legal business including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based in Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @ DaveThomas5150.

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