Skip Miller, the former No. 2 at Christensen Glaser Fink Jacobs Weil & Shapiro LLP and one of the most polarizing figures in the Los Angeles legal community, has opened his own firm and snagged two partners from his old firm.


Miller has founded Miller Barondess LLP with Mark Barondess, former Christensen Of Counsel, and Daniel E. Park, a former Christensen associate.


Miller Barondess will specialize in litigation. Miller built his reputation representing A-list clients including Sean Connery, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, as well as his defending the Los Angeles Police Department in the Rodney King civil rights damages case. He's been in the news recently due to his acrimonious departure from Christensen Glaser and his defense of singer Meat Loaf's right to use the "Bat Out of Hell" title for an upcoming release.


Barondess represents the interests of CNN broadcasting giant Larry King and his companies. A former divorce lawyer, he wrote a book called "What Were You Thinking? $600-Per-Hour Legal Advice on Relationships, Marriage & Divorce."


Park's clients include South Korea-based companies, apparel manufacturers, real estate developers, restaurants, and retail service stores.


"The support of our clients has been overwhelming," Miller said. "They told us they wanted a litigation firm with top-notch litigators, and that is what we created." The firm is recruiting a handful of associates and Miller said that more hires would come soon.


Until recently Christensen Glaser has managed to keep its ranks largely intact despite the February indictment of managing partner Terry Christensen as part of the investigation of private investigator Anthony Pellicano. Now, on the heels of the departures of Barondess and Park, comes news that litigation partner Seong Kim is also leaving for the new Westside office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP.


By contrast, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP has been hemorrhaging employees since partner Bert Fields was implicated, but not indicted, in the Pellicano case. The firm has lost more than a dozen employees since March. The latest to leave is business and restructuring attorney Karl E. Block, who is joining Loeb & Loeb LLP.


KEEN Interest
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP is showing a keen interest in helping developmentally disabled children have a good time.


Kids Enjoy Exercise Now, or KEEN, is the brainchild of new firm chairman Elliott Portnoy.


Kids ages five to 25 with autism, cerebral palsy or other developmental challenges go to a gymnasium, usually on a Sunday, to play with other kids and work one-on-one with coaches. Even if bound to a wheelchair or unable to speak, kids are encouraged to come and have some fun.


"One of the things the kids enjoy most about KEEN is that it's not like a therapy session," Portnoy said. "Their companions are often paid companions, doctors, teachers, therapists, caregivers. For many of KEEN's athletes this is the only time during the week to be with someone who wants to be with them, and isn't paid to be with them."


KEEN L.A. partners with the Parks & Recreation Department and uses a field behind Dodger Stadium. The group has worked with about 250 kids in its first year through referrals from the Lanterman Developmental Center.


"The kids really look forward to it," said Jack Gilbertson, who chairs KEEN L.A. "Everybody comes back."


Gilbertson runs the L.A. program with Marjorie Heller, whose husband Dean is a lawyer with the firm. Sonnenschein provides the seed money, which amounted to $150,000 for 2005 and $200,000 for 2006. About 300 volunteers, the majority of whom are Sonnenschein employees, help with the program. Gilbertson said more volunteers would enable the group to open more locations.


Portnoy developed the idea as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, and first put the program in place while at Sonnenschein in Washington D.C. There are now programs in Los Angeles, Kansas City and St. Louis. A San Francisco location is to be launched later this year.


Movin' On Up
Winston & Strawn LLP has landed Jerry R. Bloom, the chairman of the energy sector practice at global powerhouse White & Case LLP for its young L.A. office.


Bloom is one of the most prominent energy lawyers in the country. His clients include developers, lenders and foreign governments, and he regularly appears on their behalf before local, state and federal regulatory bodies. Bloom was influential in helping the industry recover from the post-de-regulation energy crisis, and he co-chaired the creditors' committee in Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bill Pham, Wayne Grajewski and Wendy Glenn have all made equity partner at Brown Winfield & Canzoneri Inc. Pham has worked on luxury high-rise condos the Californian and the Remington in the Wilshire Corridor and the Regatta in Marina del Rey. Grajewski's clients include Ralphs, Reliance Steel, La Curacao Department Stores and Clear Channel Outdoor. Glenn joined the firm last year. She was previously a shareholder at Steefel, Levitt & Weiss, and Of Counsel at Irell & Manella LLP. Her clients include the Argonaut Insurance Group and Border Grill Restaurants.


Staff reporter Emily Bryson York can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235, or at eyork@labusinessjournal.com .

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