Sunday, July 20
PITTSFIELD — In a move bound to trigger reverberations — and speculation — in the county's legal community, four prominent attorneys at Cain, Hibbard, Myers & Cook are leaving the renowned Pittsfield law firm to start their own practice.

Although the impending departure of two of the firm's most seasoned partners, Leonard H. Cohen and C. Jeffrey Cook, was described as "amicable" in a release issued by the West Street firm, it remains unclear if any of Cain's eight associate attorneys plan to defect to the new firm, to be named Cohen, Kinne, Valicenti & Cook.

Cain partners Kevin M. Kinne and David E. Valicenti will round out the roster of the new legal practice, which is slated to open Jan. 1 with offices in Pittsfield and Great Barrington. A phone listing for the firm is available on the Web site addresses.com, though a recorded message indicates the number will not be activated until Jan. 1.

Five will remain

Five of Cain's six remaining partners — Diane M. DeGiacomo, Vicki S. Donahue, Dennis M. LaRochelle, Lucy Prashker and F. Sydney Smithers IV — will remain at the firm, which also has a Great Barrington office.

However, the release did not mention the status of attorney William B. Roberts, who is listed as a partner. The one-page statement addressed to "members of the Berkshire Bar" did not indicate if Roberts is staying, going or already gone.

Most of the firm's attorneys could not be reached for comment yesterday, including Lori H. Levinson, a Cain associate who, like Cohen, tends to focus on criminal matters.

Prompting speculation

Cohen and Levinson have partnered on a number of high-profile criminal cases, including the defense of Christopher Burda, a North Adams man convicted in March of supplying a loaded gun to a woman who killed herself with the weapon as Burda watched.

The release was sent to the Berkshire County Courthouse Wednesday and began making the rounds in local legal circles late last week, prompting some curious lawyers to wonder if there is more to the split.

The masthead of Cain, Hibbard, Myers & Cook, one of the oldest and best-regarded law firms in the region, will be downsized to Cain Hibbard & Myers, according to the statement. The three remaining names in the firm's title belong to Lincoln S. Cain, Stephen B. Hibbard and Frederick M. Myers. Cain and Hibbard are deceased, while Myers is retired.

"The departure is amicable and all partners wish each other well," the release stated.

Cohen, Cook, Kinne and Valicenti will remain at the firm until their practice opens in 2009. Cohen said additional information about the new firm would be available tomorrow.

Putting the word out

"We've put the word out to clients, to the district court and to the bar association," the attorney said in a brief phone interview yesterday.

With a lineage extending back to the mid-1800s, Cain, Hibbard, Myers & Cook is one of the most diversified law firms in Western Massachusetts.

Partners and associates of the firm are accomplished attorneys with degrees from some of the nation's top colleges and universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Penn, Amherst, Smith, Williams and Annapolis, among other prestigious institutions.

Over the years, the firm has represented such big-name clients as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, General Electric, Berkshire Health Systems, Berkshire Bank and The Norman Rockwell Museum, to name but a few.

Extensive education

Cohen, a Pittsfield native who received his law degree from Boston University, primarily focuses on criminal matters, while Cook, a New York City native with a law degree from Columbia, concentrates on business, banking and financial law.

He has more than 35 years of experience in mergers and acquisitions, according to the firm's Web site.

Kinne and Valicenti received their law degrees from Northeastern University and Hofstra University, respectively.

Kinne is an expert on employment law and securities and commercial litigation.

Valicenti, Cain's newest partner, specializes in contract, employment and real estate law.

To reach Conor Berry: cberry@berkshireeagle.com; (413) 496-6249.