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From Barn to Big Law: Solo Joins Firm After 30 Years On His Own

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By Jason Beahm on November 17, 2010 5:56 AM

It's never too late to try something different.

Thomas Bergstrom is living proof. After spending 33 years as a solo attorney, the former University of Iowa grad is making a move to BigLaw. That means that he is moving out of the converted barn in his backyard, and into the offices of Bechanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a 450-attorney firm where he will be a partner. Bergstrom will be commuting on the morning train to the Bechanan's Philadelphia office.

Thomas Bergstrom is well known in the Philadelphia region for his criminal defense work, including representing John duPont in the alleged murder of Olympic gold medal winner David Schultz as well as several other high profile cases. He was also previously a judge advocate officer for the U.S. Marine Corps and a federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania.

It all came about after Bergstrom's late wife passed away. At the age of 67, he decided that he wanted to spend more time working in the city. Bergstrom was in touch with other large firms and called a friend of his that did white-collar defense at Buchanan Ingersoll. The friend, William DeStefano, pitched Buchanan as an option for Bergstrom. After considering it, Bergstrom decided he liked the size and resources of the firm. Of course the firm had to consider the matter as well, bring in a solo of 33 years doesn't happen every day.

"That took a while to talk to the powers-that-be about: whether it was a good idea. But we concluded that it was good for us and for Tom," DeStefano told the Philadelphia Business Journal. "There are certain limitations on what a solo practitioner can do. And for us, we get one of the top lawyers in the field."

Bergstrom seems genuinely excited by the new position. He said that while he knew that he is walking into some bureaucracy, but that he isn't "ready to ride off into the sunset yet."

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