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Boutiques Find Strength in Unity

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 admin

By Kris W, Scibiorski

In a world of ever growing legal behemoths, a small band of highly skilled outsiders is trying to hang on to their hard won niche practices.Admittedly, the efforts of the New Jersey chapter of the International Network of Boutique Law Firms (INBLF) are unlikely to make much of a blockbuster action flick, but they do tell an interesting story of how a singlefocus firm can survive in the increasingly competitive legal landscape. INBLF is an international organization with chapters generally comprised of small firms that specialize in a single practice area; only one firm from a given area is admitted, According to Alan S. Ashkinaze, a Hackensack solo concentrating on environmental law, the organization “is a network, not just of client referrals, but also of ideas and resources that helps level the field” for boutique firms competing with legal giants. The New Jersey chapter, headed by Ashkinaze, is a relatively recent arrival on the state’s legal scene, but already boasts some well known members, including Lynn Fontaine Newsome, the incoming president of the New Jersey State Bar Association. And INBLF hopes to use her installation next month to make a name for itself among the lawyers, judges and others gathered for the State Bar’s annual meeting in Atlantic City.

Members of the chapter include bankruptcy practitioner Stephen B. Ravin of Forman Holt Ehades & Ravin in Rochelle Park, the intellectual property firm Lerner, David, Littenberg, Krumholx & Mentlik in Westfield, the Morristown office of global labor law firm Jackson Lewis and the tax firm Korf & Rosenblatt, also in Morristown.

According to Ashkinaze, the group is seeking member candidates focusing on criminal law, real estate, business transactions, immigration, complex civil litigation and plaintiff side employment. Prospective members must pass muster with both chapter members and the national INBLE Ashkinaze said Newsome’s membership “speaks volumes about the caliber of the law firms in our chapter;’ “We’re looking for pre eminent leaders in their fields,” he said.Comments about this story may be sent to kris.scibiorski@njlnews.com.

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