Just a week after losing a partner, Pierce O'Donnell has a new firm and focus.
Ann Marie Moritmer dissolved O'Donnell & Mortimer LLP earlier this month, leaving the firm along with a handful of attorneys to start the Los Angeles office of Hunton & Williams LLP.
In the wake of her exit, O'Donnell has founded a new shingle, O'Donnell & Associates, which will concentrate on complex business litigation and public justice litigation.
O'Donnell is considered one of the nation's leading trial attorneys. He's represented major corporations such as Conoco Phillips, Bridgestone/Firestone, and Texaco and successfully defended Lockheed Martin Corp. against more then 3,000 toxic tort claims. O'Donnell is also active in the entertainment industry, handing cases for Vidal Sassoon, Michael Bolton and Faye Dunaway. But recently, O'Donnell's work has turned more to public justice.
He's currently lead counsel in two federal cases representing Hurricane Katrina victims in suits against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. One is a test case with five plaintiffs and a business seeking reparations. Another seeks an injunction to close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.
"I am realizing a longtime ambition to use whatever talent and resources I have to represent the vulnerable in our society who too often lack competent counsel and access to justice," O'Donnell said, adding that he will continue with the business litigation work that has made him famous.
His new firm is "lean and friendly" with five lawyers.
"I'm 59 and I want to give back," O'Donnell said. He expects to spend about 40 percent of his time on the Katrina cases in the next two years.
The rest of the time, he says he'll be working on other cases, "to keep the wolves from the door."
The Blog Docket
Jim Butler, who heads the 50-lawyer hospitality group at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro LLP, says that last year he found that there were more than 600 blogs devoted to law. None of them, he discovered, focused on hotel law. So he started his own.
"It was probably about a year ago that I started noticing a number of articles about how important blogs were going to be as a means of communication, particularly among people in a given industry," Butler said.
Butler has always been interested in computers, crediting his technical savvy to his lifelong fascination with science and technology. When he was in high school, he planned to become a nuclear physicist but turned to the bar instead. He's become one of the nation's best-known hospitality lawyers.
He said that his blog is a great vehicle for communicating with clients and branching out. In his near-daily entries, Butler muses about hotel condos, disaster preparedness, employment issues, finance, land use and management agreements.
"For us, the global hospitality group is all about creating solutions to client-hotel transactions and problems," he said. "Being able to disseminate information quickly is critical and that was my inspiration to take the next step and make this blog happen."
Butler said the response to the blogs from friends, clients and people he's meeting for the first time has been "overwhelming." Writing the entries at www.hotellawblog.com takes five to ten hours a week, Butler said, most of which is done on weekends and late at night.
Thirteen children, ranging in ages from 10 to 16 years of age, completed an eight-week mock trial program last week at the L.A. County Superior Courthouse. The program was put hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, Superior Court Judge Michael T. Carter and Jeffrey Lenkov of Manning & Marder Kass Ellrod Ramirez LLP.
Lenkov got the idea last year and began looking for programs to work with.
"My father had a blue collar background and it hit me that one of the reasons I became a lawyer was that my father wanted us to have a higher education," Lenkov said. "I just thought the difference between people who have, and who don't, is the opportunity."
After a few cold calls, Big Brothers Big Sisters agreed to become a partner and the first event was held last year and each lawyer worked with about five kids. This year, the lawyer-child ratio is nearly 1-1.
As part of the program, the kids worked through the discovery process all the way to trial. Each child met with his or her attorney for up to two hours each week, studying legal history and ethics and working on communication skills.
For the last two weeks of the program, the kids started practicing their roles for the mock trial.
Lenkov hopes the next step will be extending the program into other professions, such as medicine and journalism.
Greenberg Glusker LLP has made its first two hires in six months, a positive step for the firm that sustained a number of major partner losses last spring. Krystal M. Hauserman, formerly of Reed Smith LLP has expertise in general business and entertainment litigation. JinAh Lee is a real estate attorney, formerly of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Both attorneys are associates at Greenberg. Bertha Willner is a new equity partner at Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif LLP. Thomas McLain joined Arnold & Porter LLP's Los Angeles office as a partner. He will handle international transactions.
Staff reporter Emily Bryson York can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235, or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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