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.


The firm will have 10 to 15 guests aged 17 to 25 who have expressed an interest in employment at a law firm. The students and working adults will get a tour of the office and then be addressed by lawyers, a legal secretary and a law librarian about what they do at work.


One of the lawyers to get the ball rolling in Los Angeles was William H. Grignon, an associate with the firm who is blind. He has been involved with the disability rights organization for nearly two years.


"Sometimes disabled people have low or no expectations," Grignon said. "And they tend to live down to those expectations. So we try to encourage a passion."


Kirkland has a long relationship with the center and two of its attorneys have sat on the organization's board.


"Not all the barriers preventing economic advancement for people with disabilities are physical," said Eve Hill, executive director of the center. "Disability Mentoring Day allows people to showcase skills and abilities that tend to be overlooked when the focus is on the disability. It allows employers to see how well these job-seekers can navigate the workplace and fit into the workforce. These experiences have resulted in long-term working relationships that benefit both parties."


The event is timed to coincide with National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The City and County of Los Angeles, and other private corporations, including Edison and Darden Restaurants, will also participate in the mentoring day.


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Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP will receive the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles 2006 Pro Bono Services Award for its assistance in representing low-income tenants facing eviction. Greenberg Glusker LLP has promoted attorneys David Cranston and Bonnie Eskenazi to the firm's management committee, where they'll join managing partner Norman Levine, Robert Chapman and Dennis Ellman. Silver & Freedman LLP has named labor and employment veteran Beth A. Schroeder to the firm's managing partner spot. She'll replace Perry Silver, who has held the position since 1975.


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

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