Blank Rome LLP continues to build its practice in Century City with the addition of six attorneys.

The Philadelphia-based firm scooped up Dennis Condon from Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi LLP along with five lawyers from labor and employment boutique Knee Ross & Silverman LLP, including the firm’s founding partner, Howard Knee. The remaining Knee Ross attorneys are operating as Ross & Silverman and plan to merge with Westwood firm Eisenberg Raizman Thurston & Wong LLP.

Blank Rome launched its Century City office in February with five partners, and with the addition of the six attorneys earlier this month, the firm now houses 15 attorneys.

Knee said he opted to join the 500-attorney Blank Rome for the opportunity to establish the firm’s labor and employment presence on the West Coast.

“I wanted a chance to move to a larger platform and take on another challenge in my career,” Knee said. “This seemed like a good opportunity for me and the other lawyers in my office.”

Knee joined Blank Rome as partner, and brought with him Michael Ludwig, who joined as of-counsel, and Colleen Carolan, Jim Newman and Mary Pierce, who joined as associates.

The group represents companies in all aspects of labor and employment relations, including discrimination and wrongful termination litigation, wage and hour litigation, and unfair labor practice proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.

Condon, who joined Blank Rome as partner, focuses his practice on complex business transactions and corporate governance issues. Before entering private practice in 2004, Condon served as chief legal officer for oil giant Unocal Corp., which merged with Chevron Corp. in 2005.

New Chief

Dana Kravetz became the managing partner of Michelman & Robinson LLP at the beginning of January, taking the helm from firm founder Sanford Michelman.

Kravetz joined the Encino firm in 2004, when he launched the firm’s labor and employment department. He then started handling management aspects of the firm in 2005.

“It’s a natural maturation of the firm,” Kravetz said of becoming managing partner. “The founder is not going to be the managing partner of the firm forever.”

As managing partner, Kravetz plans to bring in more attorneys to the firm’s San Francisco and New York offices, which opened in 2006 and 2009, respectively.

“We want to grow out our San Francisco and New York offices to be on par with what we’ve done here in Los Angeles and Santa Ana – increasing lawyers and rounding out specialty areas,” Kravetz said.

Kravetz, who met founding partner Michelman while both were law students at Southwestern Law School, will continue to practice labor and employment law while he manages the firm.

Meanwhile, Michelman, who launched the firm in 1999, will serve as chairman of the executive committee. He will focus on generating business for the firm, which specializes in business litigation, corporate and securities work, insurance coverage, entertainment and media law, among other practice areas.

Family Business

S. Christian Stouder began his legal career at Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP in 1989, when he served as a summer associate at the Westchester firm.

Since then, he’s moved up the ranks from associate to partner and, now, managing partner of the 72-attorney firm.

“I’ve been with the firm my whole legal career,” Stouder said. “I refer to it as the family business.”

Stouder, who specializes in product liability and real estate litigation, became managing partner at the beginning of January. He took over from Dennis Wheeler, who will continue to sit on the firm’s executive committee.

Stouder plans to expand the firm’s attorney count, and strengthen its presence in litigation, transactional work and bankruptcy matters.

“I will be spending much more time in a management role as opposed to practicing law,” he said, “I’m very excited.”

Haight Brown’s five California offices house 72 attorneys, who specialize in general business litigation, professional liability litigation such as medical and legal malpractice, and toxic tort and environmental law.

The firm’s clients include auto giant Nissan Motor Co., truck manufacturer Navistar International Corp. and discount retailer Big Lots Inc.

Chu Gives

High-profile intellectual property litigator Morgan Chu and his wife, Helen, have donated $2.5 million to the City of Hope.

The gift was announced Jan. 11 and will establish an endowed chair in the City of Hope’s Beckman Research Institute.

Chu, a partner in the Century City office of Irell & Manella LLP, and his wife have been longtime supporters of the City of Hope. The Duarte research and treatment center for cancer and diabetes gave Morgan Chu an honorary doctorate at its commencement ceremony in June 2009.

In 2009, his firm donated $3 million to endow the City of Hope’s director’s chair, a $5 million gift to its graduate school and a $2 million gift to create a visiting professorship.

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

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