The Los Angeles outpost of Dickstein Shapiro is quickly turning into the little office that could.


The Washington, D.C.-based firm gained a California presence in May 2005 with the acquisition of 10-attorney insurance coverage boutique Pasich & Kornfeld. Since then the firm has added an entertainment practice, moved into a larger office in Century City and most recently brought on board four business litigators from the Los Angeles office of Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner, including partners James Turken and Amy Rubinfeld.


The lawyers bring with them several clients, among them the French manufacturing conglomerate Saint-Gobain SA, which the attorneys are defending in a consumer class action. "I look forward to assisting in building out the business litigation practice," Turken said of Dickstein Shapiro.


With these most recent additions, the office's attorney headcount stands at 20 but it might not remain there for long. "At the very beginning this office was strictly insurance coverage, but the game plan was to take strategic advantage of Los Angeles and the West Coast market to grow in other practice areas," said Linda Kornfeld, managing partner of Dickstein Shapiro Los Angeles. "We have enough space that gives us room to grow to 40 attorneys."


The firm is especially interested in bringing on board lawyers who practice in corporate, employment and intellectual property, which Kornfield said would complement Dickstein Shapiro's offerings in its Washington, D.C. and New York offices.


Attorney Flight


Lawyers come and go, but at the Century City and downtown Los Angeles offices of Thelen Reid they are mostly going.


The latest departures to Dickstein Shapiro are just the most recent example. In total, more than a dozen attorneys have left the two offices in recent months, which prompted the closure of the Century City office.


And there will likely be more departures.


According to industry watchers, one of Thelen Reid's current partners is set to join the Los Angeles office of Dykema Gossett, bringing to two the number of partners the Detroit-based firm has been able to lure away.


Thelen Reid's separate Los Angeles outposts were the result of a merger between San Francisco-based Thelen Reid & Priest and New York-based Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner, which both had offices in the city. But while there has been an exodus of Los Angeles partners following the merger, Thelen Reid's most important local partners, Thomas Hill and Linda Husar, whose book of business has been estimated at over $5 million, remain in place.


Pro Bono Glitz


What do game show host Monty Hall and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have in common? Both, along with the law firm Holland & Knight and the utility company Edison International, will be honored for their community and public service at Public Counsel's annual dinner on June 19th.


The somewhat eclectic mix of honorees demonstrates that "getting involved is not limited to one type of business model or any political affiliation," said Dan Grunfeld, chief executive of the Los Angeles-based non-profit.


The organization, which describes itself as "the largest public interest pro bono law firm in the world," provided free legal services to 26,000 low-income people last year. Much of that legal counseling and expertise came from lawyers in private practice who volunteered their services, making Public Counsel a primary charitable conduit for the region's legal industry.


The non-profit's glitzy annual dinner, a must-attend for many of the region's legal titans, could be described as the legal industry's version of a Hollywood awards dinner. This year the Florida-based law firm Holland & Knight, which has a 40-attorney office in Los Angeles, will be honored for its pro bono work. More than 1,200 people, representing 250 law firms and companies, are expected to attend the dinner at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The list of law firms includes Sidley Austin, Latham & Watkins and O'Melveny & Myers.


"The involvement of the law firms and other businesses is a tribute to the community's commitment to getting behind our work and the notion we all have a role to play in members of the community accessing justice," said Grunfeld, who expects the dinner to raise over $2 million dollars, representing about 40 percent of organization's operational budget.


"Public Counsel exemplifies what the legal community here in Los Angeles is supposed to be about, which is helping the underprivileged," said dinner co-chair Brian Strange.


New Partner, New Name


Greene Fidler & Chaplan has changed its name to Green Fidler Chaplan & Hicks to reflect the addition of Seth Hicks to the partnership. Hicks, a founder of the mortgage brokerage Allied Financing, will practice in the area of real estate and business.


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

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