Founded in 1960, Boston-based Burns & Levinson's strengths
include business, finance, real estate and bankruptcy. With seven
offices in the U.S. and Canada and about 130 attorneys, the firm is
mid-sized, but far-reaching.
Losing Lawyers, Overcoming Obstacles
In 1960, Thomas Burns, a trial attorney, and Larry Levinson, a
lawyer specializing in finance and corporate law, founded a firm in
Boston with fellow attorneys William Clancy and Robert Weinstein.
Over the next few decades, the firm launched new departments and
strengthened old ones, creating a full-service office.
The firm suffered a blow in 2001, when its insurance defense
group branched off to form Donovan Hatem LLP, taking with them
about 42 percent of the firm's revenue. Burns & Levinson
weathered the storm by forming domestic and Canadian subsidiaries
designed to capture real estate and venture capital business,
luring clients with competitive pricing and aggressively recruiting
new attorneys. The firm also added 12 attorneys from New
England-based Peabody & Arnold in 2002 and acquired science and
technology-focused Perkins Smith & Cohen in 2006.
Adapt to Survive
Today, the firm has offices in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode
Island and way up north in Montreal. The firm serves traditional
businesses as well as emerging companies in fields like
biotechnology and life sciences.
The firm has evolved with the times. In 2008, Burns &
Levinson capitalized on the crumbling housing market by launching a
subprime advisory team consisting of members of the firm's
securities, finance, bankruptcy and ERISA practices. In response to
Massachusetts' embrace of same-sex marriage, the firm's family
advisory and gay and lesbian client services groups includes
attorneys up to date and published on the legal subtleties of
same-sex marriage law.
Corporate Law Food Wars
In the corporate sector, Burns & Levinson represents clients
of all sizes, from public companies to family-owned businesses and
private individuals. The corporate group specializes in securities
law, finance, start-ups, venture capital and private equity. In
perhaps its tastiest case, the firm represented a franchisee of
Qdoba Mexican Grill after a lawsuit from Panera Bread put a wrench
in the company's plans to open a new location in a Massachusetts
shopping center. Panera claimed the shopping center had violated
its agreement to refrain from leasing property to another business
that primarily sold sandwiches. The firm enlisted a culinary
historian and restaurateur to successfully prove that Qdoba's
hallmark product, a burrito, is fundamentally different than a
sandwich. And just as yummy.