After 20 years of defending the District's street-level criminals, solo practitioner Bernard (a.k.a. Bernie) Grimm is preparing to concentrate on white-collar defense. He will start as a partner in the white-collar group at Cozen O’Connor on Jan. 1st.
Grimm’s colleagues consider him one of the great courtroom showmen, and he describes himself as a “renegade,” not “an establishment-type lawyer.” (He'll dress up for Halloween on Wednesday night.) That kind of reputation makes his move to white-collar particularly stunning. When power duo Michele Roberts and Mark Rochon dissolved their firm in 2001 to do white collar, Grimm shared his thoughts with Legal Times: “It’s a major blow to the defense bar and potential clients out there who need them.” He added, “When you have the impossible case or the impossible client, you talk out loud about how you’ve had enough of this business and on the worst days you say you just want to get out. But 99 percent of us don’t act on it.”
Now, just call him Mr. 1-Percent.
But does his move really make Grimm a sell-out? He says he ignored calls from a headhunter years ago because he never saw himself fitting into a big, blue-chip firm. Cozen’s offer, though, was impossible to pass up, he says, largely because the firm has been in Washington only five years. He says the youth of Cozen’s D.C. office means his renegade spirit can live on. “The personality traits that I bring to it, which is a lot of energy and creativity, I can plug into that, whereas at an established firm, there might be a little recoil.”
Barry Boss, Henry “Hank” Asbill, and William Moffitt closed their firm in 2004 to join Cozen’s white-collar group. Asbill departed for LeBoeuf, Lamb, Green & MacRae in 2006, and Moffitt is now a solo practitioner. But Boss has stayed on, and is managing partner of the firm's D.C. office. “Barry, for me, is what closed the deal,” says Grimm, who is a long-time friend of Boss’.
Before he shutters his solo office, Grimm has three more trials lined up for November and one for December.