The tech bust hasn't deterred one L.A. law firm from reaching out to young companies.

The six partners of Santa Barbara-based Nida & Maloney LLP, along with eight associates, will join Los Angeles' Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP on Sept. 1. The group gives California-centric Sheppard Mullin a foothold on the high tech-oriented 101 corridor and the expansive Central Coast, long dominated among California firms by Nida & Maloney.

Nida & Maloney partner Joseph Nida and co-founder Ted Maloney will be among the group joining Sheppard Mullin, which will incorporate Nida & Maloney's existing offices in Santa Barbara and West Los Angeles into its existing four-office firm.

Nida & Maloney, which specializes in corporate finance and intellectual property, is also a founding developer of The Central Coast Venture Forum, a forum for Central California businesses to find venture capital.

The combined law firm both parts of which are careful not to refer to this move as an acquisition will include many tech clients.

But it also brings a lot of competition.

"We're finding our firm, Nida & Maloney, is competing with major tech oriented law firms such as Wilson Sonsini and Brobeck," said Jim Haslem, partner at Nida & Maloney.

Heading West

San Francisco firm Pillsbury Winthrop LLP has opened its first Century City office at 10100 Santa Monica Blvd.

The firm, which has offices in downtown Los Angeles and Orange County, saw a good fit between its strong real estate practice and the level of real estate activity in West Los Angeles.

"Downtown has been the center of banking, and we have a large banking practice in corporate finance and securities. That's what spearheaded the practice," said Lew Feldman, one of two partners heading up the office, which includes a third partner, two senior attorneys, two associates and a specialist. "A lot of my clients are located on the Westside, and that is the center of real estate activity."

Among Feldman's clients are KB Home Corp., Playa Capital Corp., Pulte Home Corp., William Lyon Home Corp. and Berkshire Mortgage Finance Corp.

Is Firestone Next?

Legal Knowledge Co., the Westwood venture-funded tech company backed by Softbank Capital Partners, nailed a three-year contract to provide legal and ethical information to a major Fortune 500 company whose timing might be a little late.

Lawsuit-besieged Ford Motor Co. chose two of Legal Knowledge Co.'s Web-based training programs to help its 120,000 salaried employees make the right ethical and legal decisions in their day-to-day work. It's not the biggest deal for Legal Knowledge Co., whose clients also include automotive leaders General Motors, Toyota, Daimler Chrysler and Mitsubishi.

Amanda Bronstad covers the legal community and can be reached at 323-549-5225 ext. 225 or abronstad@labusinessjournal.com

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