Once fierce competitors, Paul Derby and Paul Skiermont are now partners.

The two trial lawyers met years ago when they faced off in several national debate competitions during college. Rivalry aside, Derby and Skiermont became good friends and kept in touch even though they’ve never lived in the same city.

While Derby is still in Los Angeles and Skiermont remains in Dallas, the longtime friends have merged their respective law firms to create Skiermont Derby – something they’ve dreamed about doing since they attended law school.

“You see a lot of each other when you do college debate at the highest level, so we’ve always been friends,” Derby said. “We were ushers in each other’s weddings.”

Derby’s former firm, Derby Curtis, was a commercial litigation boutique in downtown Los Angeles with four attorneys, each of whom joined the new firm. The office will remain in its present location.

The small shop is now part of a 14-lawyer network that will continue to handle commercial litigation. The firm’s team in Dallas, which is also staying in the same office, mostly handles patent, trademark and other intellectually property disputes.

“The effect of the merger will be to diversify Dallas slightly,” Derby said. “But I think, more importantly, we’ll reup our work in IP here in L.A.”

Ultimately, Derby expects to begin hiring more lawyers for his local office to help bolster its new concentration in intellectual property.

“I would almost guarantee it,” said Derby, who was named managing partner of the combined firm.

Pushing Ahead

After years of frustrating setbacks, Burbank medical technology developer Imaging3 Inc. is finally ready to get out of court and back to business.

The company, which develops a medical device that produces 3-D diagnostic images of the human body, emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013 after its reorganization plan was approved in court.

But that plan, which would essentially convert its debt into equity, was delayed several times after a minority shareholder appealed it multiple times.

Imaging3 was guided through the process by Brian Davidoff, chairman of the bankruptcy and financial restructuring group at Century City’s Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger.

The delays now seem to be over since a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the dissenting shareholder’s argument and gave Imaging3 its blessing to move forward, Davidoff said.

“He has been very persistent and notwithstanding,” he said. “Three courts have ruled against him. It’s not that typical but obviously you do see it happen.”

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