PORTLAND, Maine — Eaton Peabody is expanding into the Portland market and already has made one high-profile hire to fill the new office.
The Bangor-based law firm has hired Neal Pratt, a well-known Portland attorney who most recently worked for Preti Flaherty, to join Eaton Peabody’s litigation practice group, according to Dan McKay, Eaton Peabody’s managing partner.
Eaton Peabody, founded in Bangor in 1939, has been investigating an expansion into the Portland market for a long time, McKay said. Pratt’s hiring announcement was the first public disclosure of the firm’s expansion plans.
“We’ve made the decision to go forward and anticipate opening an office in the first quarter of 2013,” McKay told the Bangor Daily News.
Pratt is the first attorney hired to staff the Portland office, but McKay expects between five and 10 attorneys will eventually be based there. Besides Bangor, Eaton Peabody also has offices in Augusta, Brunswick and Ellsworth.
Hiring Pratt is a significant move by the firm in a competitive Portland market. He has worked as an attorney in the Portland area for 23 years, since graduating from law school.
Before joining Preti Flaherty in 2009, Pratt served as chair of Verrill Dana’s trial department and was the firm’s general counsel. Pratt’s also known for his civic contributions, having served four terms as chairman of the Cumberland County Civic Center’s Board of Trustees, during which time the board successfully campaigned for a $33 million bond referendum to modernize the civic center. In September, the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce honored Pratt with the Robert R. Masterton Award for Leadership in Economic Development.
“We’re very happy to have Neal on board,” McKay said. “He has a strong reputation in the litigation practice, he is well known in the Portland area and also happens to be a Bangor native, which ties in nicely with Eaton Peabody’s home base.”
Pratt said he accepted Eaton Peabody’s offer because of the firm’s “tremendous” reputation and the opportunity to “get in on the ground floor” of the firm’s expansion in the Portland area.
“It is a challenge, but one that’s very exciting and one I’m very much looking forward to,” he told the BDN.
Though the Portland market is competitive, Pratt believes Eaton Peabody will be successful in Maine’s largest market because of its commitment to hiring good people — “not just good attorneys,” he said.
“Based on that model I’m absolutely convinced that no matter how competitive the market is, the firm will succeed and do very well,” he said.
Pratt’s practice concentrates on complex civil litigation, including commercial and construction litigation, product liability and tort defense, and professional liability claims.