After only a few weeks of courtship, two Century City boutique bankruptcy firms celebrated their marriage last week when Levene Neale Bender Rankin & Brill LLP announced its merger with Robinson Diamant & Wolkowitz APC. The new firm will be known as Levene Neale Bender Rankin & Brill LLP.

The merger, which will take effect Jan. 1, means that Levene Neale can draw on its new colleagues’ expertise as court-appointed bankruptcy trustees.

“The Robinson Diamant folks have an established presence in an area that we historically have not, the bankruptcy trustee area,” said David Neale, who will be co-managing partner of the new firm. “And we would like to have more access to the world of trustee cases.”

Attorneys at both firms represent debtors, creditors and trustees in commercial bankruptcies, creditors’ rights disputes and commercial litigation proceedings. They also represent clients in a variety of industries, including retail, manufacturing, hospitality and technology.

Neale said that even though he and his partners wanted to expand their firm, they also wanted to remain a smaller operation.

“We’ve always been looking for ways to increase our base of practice and our revenue,” Neale said. “But we’ve always been interested in maintaining the boutique nature of our practice. From a business standpoint, we don’t have to worry when the economy is slow because we don’t have corporate lawyers who don’t have work.”

The weak economy has resulted in an uptick in work for attorneys at both Levene Neale and Robinson Diamant because of their specialty in bankruptcy cases, but Neale said the lack of capital has created challenges in helping companies restructure.

“You have limitations in the capital available,” Neale said. “It’s a much more competitive environment for companies looking to gain interest in lenders.”

New Home

Nancy Yaffe practiced labor and employment law at Folger Levin & Kahn for 14 years.

So when nearly 30 attorneys from Folger Levin & Kahn decided to jump ship, resulting in the firm’s dissolution in late October, she had a big decision to make.

“I looked quite extensively, I’m not much of a job hopper,” Yaffe said.

Ultimately, Yaffe opted to join the Century City office of Fox Rothschild LLP last week as partner.

“I’m happy to be at Fox Rothschild and hope to be here for another 14 years,” Yaffe said.

Her practice is focused on counseling employers on work force reductions, union compliance and discrimination issues, but she also defends clients in labor and employment litigation.

“I was looking for a place to land that had a need for a labor and employment lawyer that has a practice that is just more than big-ticket litigation,” Yaffe said. “I’m much more relationship-based with my clients.”

Continued Growth

Corporate attorney Mark Greenfield joined Blank Rome LLP’s new Century City office earlier this month. The addition bolsters the Philadelphia-based firm’s ability to handle mergers and acquisitions and other corporate transactions on the West Coast.

Greenfield said at his former firm, Greenfield & Rich LLP, also in Century City, he had to send some of his clients’ work to larger outfits because the firm wasn’t big enough to deal with bigger cases.

Joining 500-attorney Blank Rome, which opened its local office in February, Greenfield said means that he will be able to keep the work in-house.

“Blank Rome will facilitate my providing a full range of legal services to my corporate clients without having to outsource,” he said.

Greenfield represents clients in a broad range of industries, including energy, hospitality, gaming, entertainment, manufacturing, software and health care. He also has experience in the corporate world, having previously served as chairman of Zum Ritter Corp., which operates upscale Italian eateries, and chairman of Sopac Energy Corp., an oil and gas exploration company.

But Greenfield doesn’t have plans to run another company anytime soon.

He said he’s been busy helping clients handle issues that have arisen as a result of the difficult economy.

“For example, one of my clients, for which I have done acquisition work, asked me to help them with a major renegotiation of a credit facility with their principal lender,” Greenfield said.

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

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