California's climate seems to agree with Boston-based Goodwin Procter LLP.

The firm, which opened offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco last May, is now adding downtown L.A. and San Diego offices. A Silicon Valley location will follow shortly.


Lew Feldman, who runs the firm's Century City office and heads the firm's national public/private development finance practice, will also be chairman of the downtown location. He said there was some luck involved with the growth spurt.


"It's fortuitous that these opportunities have presented themselves and that we've been able act on them, because they fit like gloves with our strategic objectives," Feldman said. Goodwin, one of the nation's leading real estate firms, is on a hiring spree, too.


Joining the firm and working out of the downtown office will be Dean C. Pappas and Dani L. Vogt, from Mayer Brown Rose & Maw LLP and Edward C. Hagerott, Jr., from Munger Tolles & Olson LLP. Mayer Brown has been under intense scrutiny following a restructuring that cut 45 partners out of shares of the firm's profits and has set off a mass exodus over the past few weeks. Feldman said that he approached Pappas months ago and maintains that snagging him and his colleague had nothing to do with the restructuring.


The desire to be close to the financial center and provide an easier commute for the new hires and the rest of the staff was the driving force behind the opening of the downtown office.


"California is a critical component of our long-term strategic plan and the addition of these distinguished lawyers demonstrates our continued commitment to investing in key practices and markets in the state," said Regina M. Pisa, chairman and managing partner of Goodwin Procter.


After starting with six attorneys, Goodwin now has about 20 attorneys in San Francisco, 15 in Century City with three first years starting this summer, and 11 attorneys downtown, with more offers outstanding. Goodwin also hired seven lawyers in San Diego. The firm now has one of the country's largest technology and life sciences practice groups, with more than 100 lawyers working that sector.


Goodwin is actively pursuing attorneys for a Silicon Valley office, which is expected to open by the year's end.


Bruin Bounty

UCLA School of Law is celebrating a $5 million donation, the largest alumni gift it has ever received, from attorney David Epstein.


He's an unclaimed property lawyer and founder of Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse.


"David is someone who did well by doing good," said Michael Schill, the school's dean. "He feels very grateful for what the law school did for him in giving him an unbelievable education and launching him into a very successful career."


While working for the California State Controllers Office in 1984, Epstein discovered a clearinghouse of unclaimed savings accounts totaling $85 million in 1984.


Epstein established a program that enabled the state to start enforcing unclaimed property laws. Today California holds $4.2 billion in unclaimed property. He has since set up similar programs in other states.


Epstein's UCLA donation will be used for programs, scholarships, a lecture series and debt relief for attorneys looking to pursue public service careers. Public service attorneys typically make $50,000 or $60,000 a year, well shy of the starting salary of $145,000 at the nation's most competitive firms.


Schill noted that the law school has been forced to dramatically increase its fundraising efforts, as state financial aid has plummeted.


"Five years ago, 70 percent of our budget was covered by the government," he said. "Today it's less than 40 percent."


Generous alums have helped the school plug the gap. Between 2000 and 2005, the school averaged about $5 million each year in annual fundraising. The law school made $10 million in 2006 and has raised nearly $11 million this year already.


"Our alumni are terrifically successful and they love the school," he said. "This is a point in time when we're really going to be generating a huge amount of emphasis on fundraising. As the state cuts back on funding of the law schools, alumni are responding tremendously."


Schill said he's met about 3,000 of the schools 12,000 alumni in his nearly three years as dean. He said he's never met with any complaints about how graduates feel about their UCLA experience.


"I taught at three law schools before this," Schill said, "And I can tell you, that is not the norm."


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

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