Next year, things are going to be different at entertainment and litigation law firm Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan LLP.

Or it will be business as usual.
The divergent views are held by name partner Stanton L. Stein and managing partner Marshall Grossman. Stein and Robert Kahan are in talks with Dreier LLP, a New York-based corporate and litigation firm that is interested in opening an L.A. office. Presuming the deal is reached, Stein figures about half of Alschuler Grossman's 85-lawyer staff, many of them partners, will come with him.

Grossman only sees about 30 attorneys exiting. The dispute has exacerbated tensions at the top in a firm that has seen several high-profile exits, one failed merger and reports of another unfulfilled courtship in the past year.

Besides Stein and Kahan, Mark Neubauer and Michael R. Heimbold both left this summer for Steptoe & Johnson LLP and a number of associates have also left.

Alschuler's merger negotiations with Cooley Godward Kronish LLP have been broken off and Grossman said reported talks with Robins Kaplan Miller Ciresi LLP never got off the ground.

Stein said that Alschuler's flirtation with other firms was creating problems for his practice.

"Most of us left big firms," said Stein, who represents actors, directors and writers. "My practice doesn't make sense in a big firm that will work with companies that own the studio."

Grossman and Stein have crossed swords during their seven-year partnership and their relationship has become more strained of late.

Over the past two years, Grossman has taken on large entertainment firms as clients, a fundamental conflict with Stein's talent-based clientele.

"We have had to decline representation of similar quality with companies of similar stature because of conflicts in our representation of talent," Grossman said. He's recently represented Televisa in its case against Univision and Blockbuster as it took on Netflix. "We are positioning ourselves so that we can expand our representation of media companies," Grossman said.

Parting ways could be best for both sides. Stein expects to have more autonomy and Grossman expects that finding a merger partner will be easier as a smaller firm focused on institutional clients. Grossman added that he isn't entertaining any possible merger combinations at the moment, but could re-examine the issue in 2007.

Career Day
Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Los Angeles will host young adults from the Disability Rights Legal Center this Wednesday as a part of National Disability Mentoring Day.


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