The new year started off rocky for Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro LLP, which saw the departure of six longtime partners.

The partners – Keith Elkins, Scott Kalt, Bill Weintraub, Jeff Reuben, Fred Gartside and Jeff Riffer – left Century City-based Jeffer Mangels to launch Elkins Kalt Weintraub Reuben Gartside LLP, also in Century City, Jan. 1. Five more attorneys left Jeffer Mangels to join Elkins Kalt last week.

Name partner Elkins said the group took with them a book of business estimated at around $15 million.

The six partners left because they wanted to run their own show.

“The idea of controlling our own destiny and running our own operation is something we are excited about,” Elkins said.

The group’s clients include Trammel Crow Co., Arden Realty Inc. and Key Brand Entertainment Inc. The attorneys specialize in real estate, finance, estate planning, corporate transactions and litigation. The group also handles tax matters for the South African government.

The group’s departure is a rare occurrence for Jeffer Mangels, which houses about 150 attorneys in its Century City, San Francisco and Costa Mesa offices.

“We’ve been around 30 years, and this is our first spin-off,” said Benjamin Reznik, a partner who sits on Jeffer Mangels’ management committee. “And it’s a spin-off that’s leaving basically for reasons they stated, to be entrepreneurial, take more risks and run affairs a little differently than we do here.”

Cutting Courts

The budget cuts in Los Angeles County’s courts are going to be felt by the lawyers and firms who depend on the system to process their cases and serve their clients.

Charles “Tim” McCoy, presiding judge of the L.A. county courts, has already met with law firms and organizations such as the Los Angeles County Bar Association to discuss the impact budget cuts will have on the local legal industry.

“I have been talking about closures we are going to have to institute so they can begin to adjust their business models,” McCoy said. “They need to understand that their business is going to slow down and get hurt.”

A study shows that budget cuts in Los Angeles County’s court system will result in a $30 billion hit to the local economy.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court, the nation’s largest trial court system, commissioned the study by downtown L.A. firm Micronomics Inc., which specializes in statistical analysis.

The study was released in late December, and showed that budget cuts will result in job losses, which will result in closed courtrooms and cause increased delays for legal proceedings.

McCoy has been pushing for a controversial measure to offset the budget problem. He has been advocating the redirection of bond revenue that is supposed to fund the construction of courthouses to fill a portion of the budget gap.

Funding cutbacks for county courts are expected to result in annual budget deficits of no less than $79 million, and graduating up to $140 million for 2009-2010 through 2012-2013, according to the study.

As a result of the deficits, McCoy said he will have to lay off about 485 people in March and close about 38 courtrooms. He has already closed 10 courtrooms.

The study found that the shuttered courtrooms will result in increased delays for civil legal proceedings. On average, it takes about 16 months for a dispute to be resolved, and that length is expected to increase to more than four-and-half years.

Roy Weinstein, one of the study’s authors, said the delays will hit local businesses involved in ongoing legal disputes particularly hard.

“One of the things the courts do for us is they resolve disputes and free up resources that are frozen in litigation,” Weinstein said. “It’s going to take longer to resolve disputes, so resources will be frozen longer and there will be an adverse affect on goods and sources of employment.”

Leaving Latham

Litigator Alan Clark left Latham & Watkins LLP after practicing at the firm for more than 30 years. He joins Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP.

Clark joined Allen Matkins as partner in the firm’s downtown L.A. office last week.

Clark said he opted to join the business and real estate firm to begin a new chapter in his legal career.

“Most of my peers at Latham had retired or moved on to other jobs,” Clark said. “So it was a good time for me to replot myself and begin a second phase.”

Clark specializes in complex commercial litigation, and handles a variety of matters, including unfair business competition, antitrust issues and real estate disputes.

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

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