They don't want to call it a divorce, but longtime legal partners Christopher J. O'Brien and Steve Boyd are splitting up to form separate personal-injury law firms.
The breakup, which both former partners described as completely amicable, took effect in August, but the two lawyers are only now beginning to establish updated websites and advertise their new practices.
The split stems from discussions the two had over the future of the firm, and the two lawyers divided up their clients and staff without serious difficulty, O'Brien and Boyd said in separate interviews.
The partners formed O'Brien Boyd P.C. in January 2001. The two lawyers handled a wide range of wrongful-death, product-liability and other personal-injury cases and gained a reputation for representing the victims of drunken drivers.
The firm advertises regularly on local television and area billboards and recently acquired the phone number 222-2222.
The partners began in May or June to discuss what type of legal practice they hope to have 15 or so years from now and realized that their views differed.
They began the complicated process of breaking up the firm, but O'Brien and Boyd said that this went smoothly and that the two remain good friends. "We reached an agreement on everything," O'Brien said, adding that if he ever had a conflict and couldn't represent a prospective client, "the first person I would send him to is Steve Boyd."
Boyd said his response to people who ask about the split is to ask: "Do you love your brother? ‘Yeah.' Do you live with him? ‘No.'?"
They'll live together a little longer, because while Boyd is buying the firm's current offices, at 40 N. Forest Road in Amherst, O'Brien continues to work out of there and likely won't leave for several months.
Steve Boyd P.C. and The O'Brien Law Firm each hired several of the firm's full-time employees, and Boyd said that a couple of staffers are working part time for him and part time for O'Brien.
Their only other attorney, Tonawanda Town Justice John J. Flynn Jr., who worked for O'Brien Boyd part time, will continue to work for Boyd part time. Boyd has taken the clients he represented primarily, and O'Brien has retained the clients he represented primarily.
The split went into effect Aug. 1, but the firm's contracts for some of its billboard advertising didn't expire until recently.
Both men are still figuring out their advertising approaches for the new solo firms.
Boyd said the two men protected their "We sue drunk drivers" advertising slogan, and each has the right to use it.
One thing that can't be shared or divided, the 222-2222 phone number, will go to O'Brien following what he deemed "an amicable discussion," but neither lawyer will say what O'Brien gave Boyd in return.
Boyd has registered 400-0000 as his new number.