In bad times, the bankruptcy business is good.

That thesis played a role in Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP's acquisition of Moldo Davidson Fraioli Seror & Sestanovich LLP.

Beverly Hills-based Ervin adds 13 attorneys to its roster, for a total of 53, thanks to the largest acquisition in its 56-year history.

Moldo Davidson brings a group of bankruptcy lawyers to the firm, giving Ervin Cohen the ability to help some of its clients, whether they're creditors or companies facing reorganization.

"What has happened with the economy certainly makes the bankruptcy group busy for the next year," said Ken Luer, a member of Ervin Cohen's executive committee.

Moldo Davidson attorneys also focus on employment law, intellectual property, Latino business issues, mergers, real estate transactions and business litigation.

Byron Moldo, a bankruptcy lawyer, said his fellow partners had wanted to join a larger group of attorneys in order to offer their clients attorneys who are experts in a wider variety of legal issues.

"I think we are strong in certain areas that they were looking to expand in, and they provide practice areas that are complementary to our practice," Moldo said.

Ervin Cohen attorneys specialize in banking, securities, antitrust, health care, tax and environmental law in addition to intellectual property, real estate and business litigation.

Moldo Davidson lawyers are moving their Century City headquarters to Ervin Cohen's Beverly Hills office.

Dreier Refugees

The L.A. office of Robins Kaplan Miller Ciresi LLP just went Hollywood, adding a group of entertainment attorneys who have represented A-list celebrities such as Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and the L.A. rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Partners Michael Plonsker, Yakub Hazzard, Mark Passin, Marcia Harris, Sam Pryor and Bridgette Taylor joined Robins Kaplan this week, establishing an entertainment and media department for the Minneapolis-based firm.

The partners previously practiced together at L.A. firm Dreier Stein Kahan Browne Woods & George LLP, which was owned by New York attorney Marc Dreier. In December, Dreier was arrested and charged with securities fraud.

After Dreier's problems, the 72-attorney Dreier Stein cut its business ties with him, and partners said that they would continue to practice as Stein Kahan Browne Woods & George. But attorneys at the firm have been leaving and taking their books of business elsewhere.

Plonsker, who is co-chairman of the Robin Kaplan's new entertainment group, said his fellow partners wanted to join a national firm that had the overhead to support the kind of high-stakes disputes they are often litigating.

In mid-January, prominent entertainment attorney Stanton "Larry" Stein announced that he was joining L.A. firm Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif LLP. With Stein's addition, the firm was renamed Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor LLP.

Transactional attorney Bob Kahan, who practiced with Stein for more than 30 years, joined Beverly Hills boutique Eisner & Frank as a name partner.

Before the departure of Stein and Kahan, partners John Babala, Gregory Rovenger and Edward Schultz joined Wildman Harrold Allen & Dixon LLP, giving the Chicago firm a stronger corporate presence in Los Angeles.

The first group of attorneys to depart included Allan Browne, Edward Woods and Eric George. In early January, the trio relaunched litigation boutique Browne Woods George LLP, which the partners had founded before merging with Dreier Stein & Kahan in 2007.

IP Presence

High-profile intellectual property attorney George Borkowski joined the L.A. office of Venable LLP last month, boosting the firm's presence in entertainment and technology.

Borkowski moved to the firm from L.A.-based Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, where he made a name for himself representing video game companies Activision Blizzard Inc. and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., in addition to motion picture studios.

One of Borkowski's new colleagues, Tom Speiss, is carving out his own niche in the intellectual property space by representing startup entertainment, technology and apparel companies in trademark and copyright disputes.

Professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek, whose new MTV reality show begins airing next week, is one of Speiss' trademark clients.

Speiss said he enjoys finding ways for his clients to turn their copyrights and trademarks into profitable business ventures.

"I want to position myself so that I am not an order taker, but I am working on strategy with them to the extent that they want it," Speiss said. "The more I understand their business, the better able I am to serve their interests."

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

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