Ellen Freeman departs Porter Wright to launch her own firm
The fast-growing Pittsburgh office of a Columbus, Ohio-based law firm has a new leader.
Timothy Gallagher is now partner-in-charge at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP’s downtown office.
The firm entered Pittsburgh in summer 2017 and has 13 lawyers here.
Gallagher succeeds Ellen Freeman, who has left the firm to start her own practice.
Ellen Freeman Immigration Law Group PLLC employs two paralegals and Freeman expects to set up offices in the city’s Oakland neighborhood. Her last day at Porter Wright was Thursday.
Gallagher joined Porter Wright last June. He had been vice president and general counsel at FFC Capital Corp., a Pittsburgh-based investment management office and previously was a partner at Thorp Reed & Armstrong, now known as Clark Hill PLC. He specializes in transactional, operational and litigation matters.
“Tim, obviously, is a well-known and very strong corporate lawyer who’ll help us lead and continue to grow the office,” Bob Tannous, Porter Wright’s firmwide managing partner, said. “He has a good handle on the pulse of the Pittsburgh legal market.”
Originally, Porter Wright met with Freeman, who had been a partner at K&L Gates, about her joining one of its existing offices, Tannous said. But she wanted to stay in Pittsburgh for the remainder of her daughter’s senior year in high school. The firm liked Pittsburgh’s legal and business markets and decided to open a downtown office led by Freeman.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised and happy with the growth we’ve had,” Tannous said.
He told the Business Times last fall that he could see the Pittsburgh office topping 50 lawyers. At present, Porter Wright has eight offices and employs 210 attorneys.
“Ellen was an important part of our start in Pittsburgh and we wish her well in her new endeavor,” Tannous said. “I think she’ll do great building it out.”
Freeman, who emigrated from Ukraine and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, has been practicing since 1999, focusing on employment and family-based immigration law. She serves clients across the country. Her firm will target industry sectors including business, academia, emerging technology, health care, hospitality and the arts.
The prior firms where she’s worked — Cohen & Grigsby PC, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC and K&L Gates — are among the city’s five largest. This is the first time she’s been an entrepreneur.
“But I’ve always toyed with the idea,” Freeman said.
Opening and leading the Porter Wright office prepared her for the starting a firm of her own, she said, including the administrative side, hiring and finding space — things she did not encounter as an immigration lawyer at K&L Gates, which has more than 2,000 lawyers in offices in five continents and is Pittsburgh’s 10th largest private company by revenue.
“I was able to put my firm together very fast,” Freeman said. “We really want to deliver personalized services to clients. Immigration has become a lightning rod issue and it doesn’t always fit well in a large firm. I feel it’s the right time to try on my own to do what I’m best at, have my own business and live the American dream.”