Out-of-state law firms are moving into the L.A. legal market en masse. At least eight have opened offices in the region since the economy soured, and Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP can now be added to a growing list.

The Milwaukee firm opened a downtown L.A. office last week when it merged with litigation boutique Atkins & Evans LLP.

Jerry Gonzalez, managing partner of Gonzalez Saggio, said he wanted to establish a presence on the West Coast and felt that Los Angeles was the best location to help grow the firm's attorney and client rosters.

"Los Angeles is a definitely the most important city economically on the West Coast," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez Saggio attorneys already have clients in the region, including several auto companies that have operations here and Farmers Insurance Group. The firm's attorneys also work with GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Bank of America Corp.

Litigators Nelson Atkins and Irwin Evans have longstanding ties to the L.A. legal community. The pair relaunched eight-attorney Atkins & Evans in 1978 after their former partner, the late Johnnie Cochran, left to work in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.

Evans said he and his fellow partners decided to team up with 90-attorney Gonzalez Saggio to provide their clients with a broader range of legal services.

"Gonzalez Saggio offers practice areas that we don't offer in Los Angeles because we are a litigation firm," Evans said. "They bring other aspects, such as real estate, to the firm."

Atkins & Evans' clients include the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Legal Outsourcing

Attorney Chris Quinn has made three trips to Los Angeles in as many months to drum up business for his Novi, Mich., law firm.

Quinn's firm, Quinn Law Group PLLC, specializes in filing, prosecuting and litigating patents for companies.

The down economy has prompted Quinn to solicit business in Los Angeles, with the message that companies can get legal work done cheaper by contracting with Michigan attorneys.

"The auto industry has wrecked the Michigan economy, and there are a lot of unemployed professionals here," Quinn said. "We have been able to leverage that and get a lot of work in California because we can do the same quality of work at a significantly lower rate."

Quinn is focusing on the technology and life sciences sectors, offering companies rates of $200 to $300 per hour. That's significantly cheaper than the fees L.A. attorneys charge, which range from $250 to $1,000 per hour.

Quinn has already teamed up with Westwood law firm Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor LLP to get business from local clients.

Liner Grode is an 80-attorney firm and such firms generally don't file patents; it's a specialty they leave for smaller operators. Now, instead of referring clients to local attorneys, Liner Grode is outsourcing the work to Quinn's firm.

"As much as I like and respect our local brethren here in California, right now clients are demanding every savings they can find with regards to legal services," said Stuart Liner, managing partner of Liner Grode. "Michigan has become our version of India."

Name Change

Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs & Shapiro LLP has added a sixth name, Roger Howard, to the firm letterhead, becoming Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard & Shapiro LLP.

It's the second name change in the past year for the firm, which was formerly known as Christensen Glaser Fink Jacobs Weil & Shapiro LLP. The Century City firm dropped the name of founding partner Terry Christensen in September after a Los Angeles federal jury convicted him in the Anthony Pellicano case.

Howard, who specializes in corporate transactions and real estate, joined what was then known as Christensen Glaser in 1991 after practicing at Chicago firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. At that time, the firm only housed 20 lawyers, compared with the 110 who currently practice there.

Howard represents real estate developers, lenders and title companies on large residential and commercial projects, including Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. and Chicago Title Insurance Co.

Howard's practice has been booming as he has worked on restructuring the financing on development projects that have stalled when funding fell through.

"With the downturn in the real estate economy, we have seen a huge resurgence of loan defaults on large residential multifamily projects," he said.

Staff reporter Alexa Hyland can be reached at ahyland@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.

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