(from left) Andrew Raines and Miles Feldman

(from left) Andrew Raines and Miles Feldman Photo by Courtesy Photo

Over a roughly twelve-month period ending spring 2009, the downtown Los Angeles office of Chicago-based Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP dwindled from more than 70 attorneys to 30 due to a combination of departures and layoffs. Since then, the office has had trouble recovering its local reputation.

“It was an impediment to recruiting,” admitted Darry Sragow, the office’s managing partner. “There was a lingering word on the street that this was an office that had shed a lot of people and maybe had some kind of problem.”

But Sragow says the recent merger of Sonnenschein with London-based Denton Wild Sapte has gotten the attention of potential partners in the L.A. area, especially those who handle international matters. The merger instantly gave the newly formed SNR Denton a stronger international presence; the two firms, which had no offices in overlapping cities, combined for 48 offices in 32 countries.

“We started to get significant partner prospects who frankly would have not approached us before that deal was struck,” he said.

Mark Riera, who joined the firm on Sept. 23 after 26 years as a partner at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, said the merger was a major factor in his decision to come on board. The 53-year-old has a broad litigation practice that focuses on class-action defense for corporations. He said his book of business approaches $2 million, with clients that have included FedEx and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp.

“I can’t imagine a better platform to serve my clients who increasingly do business on a world scale,” he said.

The firm’s L.A. office added about half a dozen associates this year before the merger, and is now in growth mode.

“Probably a few other people will be joining Mark in the months to come, and they’re getting in at a time when they can help shape what this firm and office is going to become,” Sragow said.

Fresh Start

Raines Law Group, formerly a 15-attorney firm specializing in transactional work in the areas of real estate and private equity, re-launched last week as Raines Feldman LLP with the addition of entertainment attorney Miles Feldman. The new firm will continue to be based in Beverly Hills.

Feldman, 44, who left Westwood-based Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor LLP, is a trial lawyer who specializes in entertainment and intellectual property. His clients have included the Black Eyed Peas, Will Smith, Starz Media and Activision.

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