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Thursday, May 19, 2022

D.C. Firm Grows Staff at Downtown L.A. Office

Crowell & Moring LLP has added five attorneys to its downtown L.A. office, the firm’s latest step in building a presence in the L.A. market.

The Washington, D.C.-based firm arrived in a big way last year when it acquired white-collar criminal defense boutique law firm Lightfoot Vandevelde Sadowsky Crouchley Rutherford & Levine LLP.

Earlier this month, the firm added two partners at its downtown office, one counsel and two associates from Mayer Brown LLP and McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.

Mark Troy joined as a partner and represents businesses with government contracts, arriving from McKenna Long.

Michael Cypers, who represents companies in financial litigation, joined from Mayer Brown, also as a partner.

Janet Levine, another Crowell partner, said the pair’s expertise is a good match with the white-collar criminal defense matters that the firm has been handling locally.

“It’s a natural fit,” Levine said. “If you look at a good, solid chunk of federal criminal prosecutions and investigations, they come from programs that have government funding or people who have had government contracts.”

Troy handles regulatory matters and disputes for companies such as defense and aerospace contractors that do business with the federal government.

He spent 23 years practicing at McKenna Long, but said that he was persuaded to join Crowell for the opportunity to represent clients in other industries.

“It’s very though to leave a firm that you’ve been with for 23 years,” Troy said. “I was torn between my loyalties to that great firm, and the opportunity here to build a new office and to expand my practice to include health care group clients.”

Cypers said he opted to join Crowell because of the firm’s prominence in Washington, and in particular its attorneys’ expertise on regulatory issues.

“All of my clients, in one way or another, are regulated,” said Cypers, who handles securities litigation and accountant liability cases, and represents private equity funds. “It gives my clients a tremendous depth and ability to deal with regulatory matters or investigations that might come up.”

In addition to Troy and Cypers, Crowell also added Kathleen Balderrama as counsel and Melanie Natasha Henry as an associate, both from Mayer Brown, and Mana Elihu Lombardo as an associate, formerly of McKenna Long.

Accumulating Attorneys

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP snagged five land-use lawyers from Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP earlier this month, boosting the downtown L.A. firm’s real estate capabilities.

Jerold Neuman and Michael Kiely joined Sheppard Mullin as partners. The firm also added associates Alfred Fraijo Jr., Claudia Gutierrez and Phillip Tate.

Neuman, who previously chaired Allen Matkins’ land-use and government relations practice group, said the quintet joined Sheppard’s downtown L.A. office for the opportunity to handle real estate matters for a wider variety of companies: They’ll be working with Sheppard’s corporate, health care and entertainment clients, in addition to others.

Timing favored diversification, he said, because of the downturn in real estate.

“There came a time when we recognized that there could be an advantage in expanding the platform in which we work,” Neuman added. “Our view is that Sheppard provided a platform to do that.”

Neuman and Kiely have been involved in some of Southern California’s higher-profile real estate projects, including the Hollywood and Highland retail complex, the proposed 1.2 million-square-foot redevelopment at Capitol Records in Hollywood and the Del Mar Station mixed-use development in Pasadena.

Sheppard Mullin houses more than 200 attorneys in its downtown L.A. and Century City offices, and the firm’s real estate, land-use and environmental practice group includes more than 70 attorneys firmwide.

Asian Demand

Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff Inc. launched an Asia practice group last week to better serve clients doing business across the


Some attorneys at the Century City firm represent many local clients doing business in Asia, and Asian clients doing business throughout the United States. These attorneys formed the practice group so they can work together more closely.

By establishing an Asia practice, Rutter Hobbs partner Fred Fenster said the firm can focus on providing those clients with legal services in areas including business litigation, intellectual property and bankruptcy matters, and real estate and business transactions.

Rutter Hobbs has been working with Asian clients looking to invest in the U.S. commercial real estate market, including some that are interested in acquiring properties owned by L.A.-based Maguire Properties Inc.

“Every loss is a boost to somebody,” Fenster said. “Clients want to capture the value of real estate at a depressed price.”

Staff reporter Alexa Hyland can be reached at ahyland@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.

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