Attorneys open new firm after Carmel’s Hollingsworth, Zivitz settle suit

Keywords Law / Law Firms

Three attorneys have left Carmel-based Hollingsworth & Zivitz law firm to start their own partnership, the lawyers announced. The migration of counsel from the family-law focused firm comes after a lawsuit between its founding partners was settled with one partner’s buyout.

Three former Hollingsworth & Zivitz attorneys—Erin Connell, Catherine Michael and Sonja Kerr—announced the formation of Connell Michael Kerr LLP in Carmel. The firm also will have offices in Texas, and the firm’s attorneys are licensed to practice in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Alaska, the company said.

“Our goal in establishing this firm was to create a place where clients could be assured that they not only had attorneys willing to listen to them with empathy and compassion but also attorneys with the highest level of experience and integrity in their chosen fields,” Michael said in a written statement.
“We look forward to making additional announcements of additional attorneys joining the firm in the near future. These are exciting times as we continue to develop a major firm serving the region and across the nation.”

The new firm will set up shop at 550 Congressional Blvd, Suite 115, less than a mile north of their former firm’s location north of Indianapolis.

The announcement came after Hollingsworth & Zivitz’s founders settled a dispute that brought them to a face off against each other in Hamilton Superior Court.  Name partner Kena S. Hollingsworth sued firm co-founder Christina M. Zivitz in May, seeking to dissolve the corporation after what Hollingsworth described as a “deadlock” between the two over management of the firm.

After mediation was ordered between the parties in May, Hollingsworth told Indiana Lawyer that Hollingsworth & Zivitz was not closing. Hamilton Superior Judge Jonathan Brown dismissed the case June 10 upon Hollingsworth’s motion.

Hollingsworth said in an email Tuesday that she agreed to purchase Zivitz’s share of the business in a deal signed last week, a day after the firm’s 15th anniversary. She did not disclose terms, but said she has a period of time under the agreement to remove Zivitz’s name from the firm’s title.

Zivitz’s attorney in this case, Kenneth Munson of Hoover Hull Turner LLP, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

“I am so beyond proud of the business that Chrissy and I built together,” Hollingsworth said in the email. “During those 15 years, Chrissy has always impressed me with her ability to do it all. Beyond her professional accomplishments, she is an incredible wife and mom to four amazing kids, and she now has an opportunity to dedicate even more of herself to her family.”

Hollingsworth said she’s grateful to those she’s practiced with past and present, and is looking past the court battle.

“I have never been more committed to practicing family law and to continuing to build the large firm I have always dreamed of building—a place where people experiencing pain through divorce or family law issues can come and feel understood—a place where clients who trust us to help them navigate the most difficult times in their lives are treated with compassion, respect, experience and advocacy.”

But the court fight appears to have taken a toll on the firm, which had grown steadily since the founders—friends since undergraduate studies at the University of Southern Indiana—founded it in 2004 as Hollingsworth Jocham & Zivitz P.C.

With the departure of Connell, Kerr and Michael, their former firm now has four attorneys in addition to Hollingsworth—Kristy Horvath, Ashley Roncevic, Genevieve Bedano and Anne-Marie Briscoe.  

“We are all extremely excited for this new chapter in our family law firm, as we continue with the single focus of providing the best, most cost-effective, compassionate and experienced legal representation for clients,” Hollingsworth said.

“Our firm has continued to receive a steady stream of new clients and client referrals. We are forever grateful for that show of trust from our former clients, friends and colleagues in the legal community, and we look forward to continuing to earn that trust for years to come,” she said.

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