The New York City commercial litigation firm Jaffe & Asher has opened a two-lawyer office in Fairfield to serve as a base for a growing debt collection practice.
The firm's managing partner, Larry Nessenson, said the new office on Kings Highway East is intended to serve as a temporary landing point in the state. "Our hope is that we can grow to five to 15 lawyers within five years if the business will support that," Nessenson said. "We only took a one-year lease because we're optimistic we might be able to grow."
Growth is part of the plan at Jaffe & Asher. In addition to the Connecticut branch, the firm with established offices in Manhattan and Paramus, N.J., has just opened a fourth office in York, Pa.
"Expanding Jaffe & Asher's footprint into Connecticut and Pennsylvania comes as a result of multiple client demands," Nessenson said. "By having a direct presence in these four states, we're able to offer local support and insights to our clients and business partners."
Until now, the firm had been regularly retained by clients in Connecticut for debt collection matters, but it had to use local counsel to do the legal work. Nessenson said that by adding Connecticut lawyers, the firm can provide its clients with "more continuity of service."
He explained that the 40-lawyer firm was formed in New York in 1974, and established itself as a "conventional commercial law practice."
In 1998, as an offshoot of its litigation practice, the firm began representing business clients in debt collection cases, which often involve lawsuits filed in Connecticut Superior Court to recover unpaid debts. That part of the practice has seen the most growth since over the past 10 years, Nessenson said. By opening an office in Connecticut, Nira Paliwoda, vice president of business development, said the firm's attorneys will be able to provide representations in other practice areas.
"As those practices grow, we'll add more attorneys," she said.
For now she said, the focus will be on debt recovery, with anticipated practice areas including real estate and corporate transactions and family law matters. The lawyer who is working in the Fairfield office, Jeffrey Zimmerman, has experience drafting contracts for business transactions of all kinds, and well as litigating breach of contract cases.
The debt recovery lawsuits that Zimmerman handles on behalf of the firm's clients, Nessenson said, "are essentially breach of contract cases."
The proximity of both the Connecticut and wastern Pennsylvania markets to New York City made them attractive areas to open the branch offices, Nessenson said.
While he's optimistic of growth, based in part on the creditors rights work the firm handles, Nessenson said they are proceeding with care. "We're going to start off small in these new offices," he said. "I think they will be spring boards to open other offices in other states where we have debt collection clients."
By JAY STAPLETON
The Connecticut Law Tribune
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