Wanting to concentrate on law more than management, three former Irell & Manella LLP partners have set up their own firm.

Richard Kendall, Laura Brill and Robert Klieger left the prominent Century City firm May 4 to launch their own boutique litigation shop, Kendall Brill & Klieger LLP. It? because the trio wanted to move away from dealing with the everyday tasks associated with running a big law firm, and instead spend more time assisting clients ?including entertainment giants Paramount Pictures, MTV Networks and BET Networks.

?e have a group of clients who we have been serving for many years who will benefit from us being able to serve their needs in a lower-cost and more flexible setting,?Kendall said.

Kendall Brill? founding partners believe that a smaller setting will also give them the opportunity to groom young litigators. The firm plans to allow nonpartner junior attorneys to share the firm? profits. That was the way things used to be before bigger firms swallowed up many of the successful smaller operators.

?t? a throwback to the way law firms operated when I was a fledgling lawyer,?Kendall said. ?e are hoping that the younger lawyers we attract will have a sense of long-term investment in the growth and success of the firm.?p>Kendall Brill, which is in Century City, houses six lawyers and plans to grow to about 16 attorneys during the next two years.

New Additions

The Century City office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP has steadily grown from four to more than 33 attorneys since its founding nearly three years ago, including the recent addition of three high-profile litigators.

Michael McNamara joined the firm as partner two weeks ago, and Kirsten Spira and Patrick Jacobs joined as of-counsel at the same time. All three previously practiced together at McNamara Spira & Smith LLP.

Mark Neubauer, managing partner of the Century City office, said that Steptoe & Johnson faced competition from others in recruiting them ?they were being courted by numerous local firms.

?t is a team everybody was talking to, and we were glad we were their pick,?Neubauer said.

In recent months, McNamara has won a $5.6 million jury verdict in a palimony case and obtained a $40 million arbitration award for a real estate industry client.

Neubauer opened the Century City office for Washington, D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson in 2006, and has overseen its growth with the addition of attorneys who specialize in litigation of intellectual property disputes, in handling bankruptcy proceedings and in structuring companies, partnerships and corporations.

Although the weak economy is prompting law firms to lay off associates and cut support staff, Neubauer said the recessionary environment isn? taking a toll on the national firm.

?ith the collapse of the financial markets, the center of the practice of law has gravitated from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue,?Neubauer said. ?nd being a Washington firm positions us well these days.?p>

Entertaining Practice

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP has continued to beef up its entertainment department with the addition of John Gatti.

Gatti left the Santa Monica office of Greenberg Traurig LLP to join Stroock as partner May 1, just two months after former William Morris agent Jeff Shumway joined the firm as partner.

Gatti, who is chairing the firm? entertainment and media litigation practice, said his interest in joining Stroock? Century City office was piqued after the firm added Shumway.

?hat was a very positive move that interested me as well because Jeff, as both an attorney and a former agent, brings a new dynamic, and new connections and possibilities,?Gatti said.

Gatti is perhaps best known for successfully representing entertainment executive Alan Ladd Jr. against Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Ladd and his producing partner Jay Kantor sued Warner Bros. for $9 million, claiming that the licensing fees for domestic and international TV and cable sales for movies they produced, including ?lade Runner?and ?hariots of Fire,?were divided unfairly. An L.A. jury awarded the pair $3.2 million.

The case, which made headlines because it was the first of its kind to go to trial, is on appeal.

At Stroock, Gatti will be working with the firm? team of entertainment transactional attorneys, including Schuyler Moore and Mathew Thompson. Moore has been at the forefront of structuring film financing deals between private equity funds and movie studios.

?? working in conjunction with the transactional entertainment group,?Gatti said. ?e have a lot of synergies back and forth.?p>

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

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