Duane Morris LLP, fresh off its announced merger with San Francisco-based Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft LLP, is looking for new office space in downtown Los Angeles as part of a plan to hire about 25 more local lawyers in the next 18 months.


Earlier this month, the Philadelphia-based firm announced plans to merge with Hancock Rothert, which had four partners and two associates in Los Angeles. The newly merged firm, which will be named Duane Morris as of Jan. 1, will have 600 lawyers in 19 offices and is projected to generate $350 million in revenue in 2006.


The Los Angeles office also would include a newly hired five-lawyer group from the local office of Coudert Brothers LLP, which recently dissolved. Russell Roten, the only partner coming from Coudert, will head Duane Morris' Los Angeles office.


"We're looking for office space that will accommodate about 35 lawyers in L.A.," said Sheldon Bonovitz, chairman and chief executive of Duane Morris. "Our current office is downtown, but the office doesn't work for us. So we're looking for new space."


Bonovitz said Duane Morris was hesitant to have an office in Los Angeles, where out-of-state firms have had more success with entertainment and real estate than general business law. The merger gives Duane Morris a better chance of success by gaining a group of lawyers with established clients.


The merger also allows the firm to expand beyond its base of insurance coverage to include other practice groups such as commercial litigation, intellectual property and bankruptcy.


Stay Off the Road!
Officials at Los Angeles Superior Court launched a $125,000 radio campaign last week aimed at encouraging traffic violators to pay their tickets online.


The local courts have offered the online services for two years, but launched the 13-week campaign on 75 local radio stations during drive times in order to increase awareness, said Allan Parachini, spokesman for the Los Angeles Superior Court.


"There are a lot of people who have just received tickets, or have pending tickets, or know someone who does," he said. "If the court can get them to remember a Web site address where they can take care of traffic school and traffic court, that's information they'll want to have. The only way to get it to them is to put it in their cars when they're likely to hear it."


The online services do not include parking tickets, he said.


Paying tickets at the court's Web site, www.lasuperiorcourt.org, lets drivers avoid spending hours at the courthouse. The court charges an additional $5 to $10 for a written declaration and each ticket in order to pay for the court's online services.


Last month, the court collected $114,330 in additional online surcharges from ticket fines and fees, Parachini said.


Lawyer on Trial
A Pasadena immigration lawyer is on trial this month facing claims by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that he sexually harassed several of his employees.


Robert Reeves, founder of Reeves & Associates, is alleged to have sexually harassed five of his female employees and fired another one because she was pregnant, according to EEOC lawyer Gregory McClinton.


The commission initially filed the lawsuit in 2000, charging Reeves with harassing a dozen female employees. The suit was dismissed, but in 2003 a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel reinstated the case.


McClinton declined to say how much the commission is seeking in damages but said that statutory caps range from $50,000 to $300,000 per violation.


While the allegations are against Reeves, the EEOC action is against the law firm. Linda Savitt, a partner at Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt who represents Reeves' law firm, said her client would be exonerated after the trial. She said the case was the result of complaints filed by two former male associates who "were intent upon destroying his firm."


Comings & Goings
Baker & Hostetler LLP has named a new managing partner of the firm's Los Angeles office, effective Jan. 1. David Sampson, the firm's coordinator of the West Coast hospitality team, replaces Peter James, a litigation partner who had been heading the 32-lawyer office .McDermott Will & Emery's local office has added a new corporate partner, Evelyn Lim, who was an associate at the Los Angeles office of Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP Brown Winfield & Canzoneri Inc. has snagged real estate lawyer Sylvia Lautsch from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP to serve as senior counsel.


*Staff reporter Amanda Bronstad can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 225, or at abronstad@labusinessjournal.com.

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