Another national law firm has opened an office in Los Angeles. Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll LLP of Philadelphia set up shop downtown last week with two attorneys from the local office of Baker & Hostetler LLP.


Ballard Spahr has been steadily expanding its presence in the western United States over the past two years. While the firm has had outposts in Denver and Salt Lake City for more than two decades, in 2006 it opened offices in Phoenix and Las Vegas. And now the firm's western road trip has reached Los Angeles.


Attorneys Scott Preston and Letvia Arza-Goderich joined Ballard Spahr as partner and of counsel, respectively. And they will soon be joined by David Sampson, the managing partner of Baker & Hostetler's Los Angeles office.


All three are real estate attorneys whose practices focus on resort development and the hospitality industry.


Preston and Arza-Goderich focus specifically on international resorts. The pair's clients have included the Pueblo Bonito Hotels & Resorts, which has properties in Puerto Vallarta and other resort locales in Mexico, and the vacation club, Royal Holiday.


Preston said he decided to join Ballard Spahr because it has a premiere hospitality and resorts practice. "They were very eager to have us join and to assist with the international hospitality work they already have and to bring the international work we have," he added.


The attorneys were also drawn by the opportunity serve as the core of Ballard Spahr's California expansion.


"Ballard has been interested in California for a while." Preston said. "We are really excited that our real estate and resorts practice will be their first venture into California."


While Ballard Spahr is making its debut downtown, Baker & Hostetler will be making its exit.


The firm is consolidating its Los Angeles presence in an office in West Los Angeles. Baker & Hostetler gained the Westside outpost when a group of attorneys from one of the local offices of the defunct Jenkens & Gilchrist PC joined the firm.


IP Specialist

Mark Scarsi, an intellectual property partner at O'Melveny & Myers LLP, has left the firm to join the Los Angeles office of New York-based Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP, it was announced last week.


"We are thrilled to have Mark join us, as he will provide key leadership on the West Coast for our IP litigation practice," said Mel Immergut, chairman of Milbank Tweed, in a written statement.


Over the course of his career, Scarsi has worked intellectual property matters for clients such as Apple Computer Inc., Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. and Lockheed Martin.


Scarsi said that while he was "very happy at O'Melveny," he made the move because Milbank Tweed offered him the opportunity to build a West Coast intellectual property department at the firm.


"Milbank has a very accomplished IP practice on the East Coast with about 50 attorneys," Scarsi said. "This move presented me the golden opportunity to build a best-in-class IP practice to complement the East Coast practice.


Scarsi added, "This is about a youngish partner being offered a phenomenal platform to try to build something."


Milbank Tweed has more than 500 lawyers practicing at 10 offices across the globe. The 80-attorney Los Angeles office is one of the firm's largest outposts.


Nine Judges

Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the appointment of nine attorneys to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Those receiving the nod include five Republicans, three Democrats and one appointee who declined to state a party affiliation. These appointments fill both newly created judicial seats and those vacant due to recent retirements.


Lesley Green, a name partner at the Los Angeles law firm Bannan Green Frank & Terzian, was among the group of appointees.


"I am not one of those people who have wanted to be a judge since law school," Green said. "I love the practice of law, but a year ago I decided I would really love an opportunity for public service."


Green's practice primarily consists of defending insurance companies with regards to contract disputes, employment matters and claims of bad faith.


Green, who will be sworn in on Sept. 28, is currently in the process of notifying clients on her impending departure and transferring active matters to other lawyers at her firm.


Others appointed to the bench in Los Angeles County include Terry Bork, a deputy district attorney, Gregory Dohi, a deputy district attorney, Marguerite Downing, a deputy public defender, Elizabeth Feffer, a partner at the San Marino law firm Jones & Mayer, Elaine Lu, an assistant U.S. attorney, Georgina Torres Rizk, an administrative law judge, Elia Weinbach, a partner at the Los Angeles law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp and Melissa Widdifield, a court commissioner.


The newly appointed judges will receive an annual salary of $171,648.


Staff reporter Drew Combs can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 228 or dcombs@labusinessjournal.com .

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