Irell & Manella LLP has a tradition of hiring young associates and grooming them for the firm’s partnership ranks – whether they stay in-house or go into the public sector and return.

So when Marshall Camp left the Century City firm in 2005 to become an assistant U.S. attorney in New York, it was almost preordained that he’d be back.

Irell announced last week that Camp rejoined the firm after his four-year stint prosecuting drug and securities cases in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Camp said he opted to return to Irell because the firm has boosted its profile with the likes of former Enron prosecutor John Hueston.

“When I heard about the firm adding John Hueston to the partnership, it was a signal that white collar was really part of the future plans for the firm,” Camp said. “My experience as a prosecutor would be useful.”

In the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Camp prosecuted South American drug traffickers and worked on the federal government’s case against an Afghan drug lord with ties to the Taliban.

At Irell, he will handle white-collar criminal matters, international investigations and complex commercial litigation. The firm is known for high-profile cases, and is currently representing former Countrywide Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo against charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year.

Elliot Brown, Irell’s managing partner, said the firm is looking for attorneys like Camp.

“Attorneys who come with the experience of being prosecutors can supply expertise in white-collar matters, and enhance our overall litigation capability,” Brown said.

Public Interest

The number of Angelenos who need free legal services has increased dramatically as a result of the economic downturn.

As a result, L.A.-based pro bono public interest law firm Public Counsel is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of low-income families, non-profits and small businesses looking for help on numerous issues, including loan modifications and foreclosures, bankruptcy filings and civil rights violations.

“The client need has skyrocketed in a few areas,” said Public Counsel Chief Executive Hernan Vera. “Foreclosures are up 1,000 percent in some neighborhoods, and our hotline is overwhelmed with homeowners who are in foreclosure and have gone to loan modifications shops and been ripped off.”

Faced with the growing demand, Public Counsel added attorney Catherine Lhamon to its roster two weeks ago and created a new position for her as director of impact litigation.

Lhamon said she plans to focus Public Counsel’s litigation efforts to address larger issues, such as loan modification fraud.

“I plan to build new cases out of the existing project areas, which are ripe for litigation,” Lhamon said.

Lhamon joined Public Counsel from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, where she handled high-profile matters including a settlement with state education agencies that set aside close to $1 billion to improve textbook stocks, hire teachers, and provide clean and safe facilities for schools in poverty areas.

Public Counsel is the largest pro bono public interest law firm in the United States. In 2008, the firm’s 41 in-house attorneys and its 2,000 private attorney volunteers provided about $83 million in free legal services.

News & Notes

Southwestern Law School and the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management has established an endowment for scholarships for female students. The endowment, which is named for business executive and author Larraine Segil, is the first for a concurrent program toward M.B.A.’s and law degrees that Southwestern and the Drucker School established in the fall of this year. … The Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel, a trade group for in-house attorneys, is preparing its fifth annual counsel of the year awards, set for Dec. 18 at the House of Blues in West Hollywood.

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

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