In a combination that brings together lawyers for the Olsen twins and President Bush's emissary to the California legal community, the Santa Monica-based Dreier Stein & Kahan and the Beverly Hills law firm Browne Woods & George, announced last week that they would merge, effective Jan. 1, 2008.


The resulting firm will be called Dreier Stein Kahan Browne Woods & George LLP and have over 70 lawyers practicing at offices in both Century City and Santa Monica.


"They are a premiere group of trial attorneys and we are a premiere corporate and entertainment litigation firm. Adding these lawyers dramatically expands our capacity to do top notch trial work for our clients," said Larry Stein, a name partner at Dreier Stein, which in addition to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, has also represented professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and Marvel Entertainment.


Dreier Stein was formed in January, by some partners formerly with the now defunct firm Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan and Marc Dreier, a New York-based lawyer at Dreier LLP. Drier Stein is an affiliate of the New York firm.


Browne Woods was founded 22 years ago by attorneys Allan Browne and Edward Woods, both of whom have tried dozens of cases over the course of their careers including complex commercial matters.


In a written statement, Browne described the merger as "the right move at the right time."


Eric George, a name partner at Browne Woods, said "It is a great deal for us because we expand and enhance our ability to serve clients. We now have some of the finest entertainment, transactional and intellectual property attorneys as a part of our outfit."


George, who is the son of California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George, was appointed in 2001 by President Bush to oversee nominations for district court judge and U.S. attorney positions in California.


Reunion in L.A.

Not surprisingly, much of the attention surrounding the merger of New York law firms Dewey Ballantine LLP and LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & McRae LLP has focused on the impact the union is having in New York.


Nearly 600 attorneys will practice in the New York office of the combined firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf. But the combination, which became effective last week, is also having an impact on a smaller scale in Los Angeles.


Dewey Ballantine has a 37-attorney Los Angeles office and LeBoeuf Lamb's 21-year-old Los Angeles office has 12 lawyers.


As a result of the merger, these relatively small Los Angeles outposts are being combined. But some of the tension that might naturally arise in these situations is muted because the merger will be a reunion of sorts for the managing partners at the firms.


Dean Hansell, co-managing partner of LeBoeuf Lamb's local office, and David McLeod, co-managing partner of Dewey Ballantine in Los Angeles, previously practiced together at the now-defunct law firm Lillick, McHose & Charles.


"It is one of the more interesting aspects of this merger that we are practicing together again," McLeod said. "There is an initial comfort level there and it has made it easier to tackle all the integration issues we have had to deal with."


A couple of days after the merger was announced in August, Hansell and McLeod got together for breakfast at the California Club ostensibly to begin the process.


"We spent a substantial part of the breakfast just catching up," Hansell said.


Since then there have been more formal and productive gatherings between the lawyers to discuss issues such as practice groups, synergies and operational duties. Dewey Ballantine's local lawyers practice in a variety of areas including litigation, bankruptcy, real estate and general corporate matters. LeBoeuf Lamb's local office also has litigation and corporate practice groups.


There is still much left to tackle. No decision has been made on how to literally combine the offices, and leasing entirely new office space is an option being considered.


Dubai Law

The law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, which was founded in Los Angeles in 1890, plans to open an office in Dubai by year's end.


"Gibson Dunn has a strong existing client base with some of the largest institutions in the Gulf region," said Ken Doran, Gibson Dunn's managing partner. The Dubai office will counsel clients on private equity deals, real estate investments and Sharia complaint financial transactions among other matters.


While the office will mark the firm's fifth overseas outpost, it will be the only such office outside of Europe. Gibson Dunn's Brussels office was the most recent international satellite prior to Dubai. The 900-attorney firm also has offices in Paris, London and Munich.


A partner from Gibson Dunn's Washington, D.C., office will initially head the Dubai office, located at Dubai International Financial Centre.


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

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