Now, at least one boutique firm is following. San Mateo-based Cooke Kobrick & Wu LLP, a contract general counsel to startup tech firms, opened a Santa Monica office last month.

The five-attorney firm’s new L.A. outpost is headed by Kathryn Coburn, formerly a principal at Health Information Technology Law Group LLC in Pacific Palisades. Coburn’s background is in health care and biotech, but she said she is also familiar with tech issues. The firm sees itself as a lower-price alternative for startups that might not be able to afford big law firms.

“There’s a big trend of tech companies, particularly in the Irvine and Santa Monica areas, that would like local counsel,” she said.

Name partner Stephen Wu said that one area he expects to focus on in Los Angeles is advising online advertising companies on privacy practices when collecting user information.

“I see this as a big trend up here in Silicon Valley as well as down there,” he said.

Texas Firm Opening

Dallas-based Thompson & Knight LLP, a 330-attorney firm with 11 offices across the globe, opened its first West Coast outpost in Century City on Oct. 1.

A full-service firm known best for its international energy practice, Thompson & Knight contemplated opening a California office for years, but finally pulled the trigger after requests from clients across several industries. It expects to work with clients in the energy, real estate and banking sectors, among others.

The new office is headed by Shelly Youree, a longtime Thompson & Knight partner formerly based in Dallas. Youree is a tax lawyer specializing in executive compensation issues. Joining her is Bruce J. Zabarauskas, 49, a financial services litigation attorney, previously at the Irvine office of Washington, D.C.’s Crowell & Moring LLP.

Youree said the office will likely look to continue expanding, including possibly hiring attorneys specializing in labor and employment and corporate law.

“Our clients were saying, ‘We really want you to be in California,’” she said. “They are primarily mid- to large-sized companies and they want a one-stop shop, so we’re responding to that.”

Staff reporter Alfred Lee can be reached at or (323) 549-5225, ext. 221.