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Attorneys lauded at Vermont’s largest law firm

When one is good at one’s job, recognition usually follows. In fact, Joe Choquette, external affairs manager at Downs Rachlin Martin (DRM), the largest law firm in Vermont, credits the firm’s recent listing in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers 2009 to the quality of its attorneys and product.

“I think it’s a combination of having good people within the firm and doing good work, and your reputation will follow,” Choquette said. “I think this is really a validation of the good work of not only those selected for Chambers USA, but all our employees.”

Fourteen of the 37 senior attorneys at DRM have been recognized in the recently published Chambers USA. In addition, the firm is ranked in the top tier in all five practice areas ranked in Vermont. These include corporate/commercial; captive insurance; labor and employment; litigation; general commercial; and real estate.

Two of the firm’s employees were chosen for the first time this year. These were Burlington-based intellectual property attorney Peter B. Kunin and Brattleboro-based labor and employment attorney Timothy E. Copeland Jr.

Both attorneys have been with the firm for a number of years. Kunin received his bachelor’s degree from Williams College and his law degree from Cornell Law School. His practice areas include trademark clearance and prosecution; trademark and other intellectual property agreements; proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board; software licensing; copyright advice; trade secret protection; and Internet law.

Copeland received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and his law degree from Vermont Law School. His practice areas include collective bargaining; litigation under the Labor-Management Relations Act; labor arbitration; advice regarding plant closing, relocation, and acquisition; employment litigation including discrimination and breach of contract claims; and non-competition and non-disclosure agreements.

The Chambers organization originated in England and has a history of calculating rankings of law firms in England and Europe. Chambers has been publishing the USA rankings for the last decade.

Choquette acknowledged there are myriad organizations that recognize top-notch law firms through ranking.

“There is kind of a proliferation of them in the industry, maybe in the hundreds, that now do this type of thing,” he said. Yet, out of what he calls this “forest of rankings,” there are “a couple of little trees that we think are pretty relevant.” These two trees include Martindale-Hubbell and Chambers USA, he said.

Also making Chambers’ rankings was Robert D. Rachlin, DRM’s founder and senior director. Rachlin was recognized in the general commercial litigation category. Also in that category were DRM attorneys Marc Heath and Walter E. Judge Jr.

Ranked in the corporate/commercial category were Lawrence H. Meier, Paul Ode, Thomas H. Moody and Kunin. Kathleen H. Davis was recognized for her captive insurance work.

DRM’s labor and employment attorneys ranked in this year’s Chambers include John W.E. Maitland, Patricia Sabalis, Peter Robb and Copeland. Real estate attorneys R. Prescott Jaunich and William Schroeder also made the cut again this year.

Chambers selects attorneys and firms to include in its rankings through extensive research, interviews and peer and client evaluations that are conducted annually. Criteria include the volume, standard and nature of marketplace commentary; a firm or lawyer’s visibility and profile as reflected by the views of the interviewees; and the volume, complexity and size of the work undertaken.

DRM has been listed in Chambers for as long as the law firm has been keeping track, which is at least the last five years, said Choquette.

The 55-year-old law firm was founded in St. Johnsbury by John Downs, Allen Martin and Robert Rachlin. The original office grew to include seven branches in Rutland, Brattleboro, Montpelier, Burlington, and Lebanon and Littleton, NH.

Choquette calls DRM “a comprehensive business law firm and the largest one in this region.” It is comprised of 68 practicing attorneys and 135 employees. DRM handles all areas of business law, intellectual property, environmental law, labor and employment, captive insurance and government affairs.

The firm has a lobbying operation in Montpelier. It also has a family law group and has a niche in energy and telecommunications work. DRM is a Vermont member of Lex Mundi, the world’s leading association of independent law firms.

Chambers USA’s published commentary cited DRM for its “unparalleled” intellectual-property practice and “depth in the employment and labor law which is usually only seen in major city firms.”

Chambers USA also commended the litigation group for being “capable of handling just about anything that happens in Vermont” and noted that the “successful captive insurance practice … represents a large proportion of Vermont’s captive companies.” It also called the firm the “state’s largest, dedicated real estate team” with “a national and even an international presence.” ?

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