Rudy Perrino was brought on as the in-house director of litigation for Dole Food Co. in 2004 for one main reason: to handle the flood of lawsuits filed by former banana plantation workers claiming to have been left sterilized by its use of pesticide dibromochloropropane, or DBCP.

Perrino would succeed quite famously, helping obtain a high-profile dismissal of two suits in 2009 as part of a legal team that uncovered a scheme to recruit fraudulent plaintiffs who had never worked for Dole.

With much of that work over, Perrino said, it was time for him to move back to private practice. Fulbright & Jaworski LLP offered him a chance to join its mass tort litigation team as a partner in its downtown L.A. office – and he took it.

“I never intended to go in-house or be an in-house litigator,” said Perrino, who started at Fulbright on April 19. “I was looking for a platform I could take my experience and my contacts to. It was a matter of convincing them that a guy coming from in-house who doesn’t have an existing book of business can indeed generate business and move it forward.”

Peter Mason, partner in charge of Fulbright’s downtown office, said Perrino will be the mass tort litigation team’s primary representative in Los Angeles.

“We did not bring Rudy in just to bring in any business he might have,” Mason said, “but to really position us to get the kind of business that he is very, very experienced in and knowledgeable about.”

Perrino, 42, will continue to work with Dole at Fulbright. Earlier in his career, he worked at the Orange County office of Gordon & Rees LLP, where he specialized in environmental litigation, toxic tort litigation, regulatory advocacy and general business litigation.

Team Building

Atlanta-based Alston & Bird LLP has beefed up its intellectual property practice in its downtown L.A. office with the additions of partners David Ben-Meir and Rachel Capoccia, previously partners at Washington, D.C.-based Hogan & Hartson LLP.

“It just seemed like a really good entrepreneurial opportunity, in the sense that Alston has this really substantial IP practice with over 200 lawyers practicing in IP, yet don’t really have that capability in L.A.,” Ben-Meir said. “There was certainly an attraction on Alston’s part to at least (build) something like a team in L.A.”

Ben-Meir and Capoccia specialize in patent litigation, primarily in the areas of electronics and computer software. At Hogan & Hartson, the two often worked together on patent cases, including an infringement claim over digital camera software in which they represented Panasonic Corp., Olympus Corp. and other camera makers. Both also worked in software before law school: Ben-Meir was at Litton Industries for seven years, while Capoccia worked for 10 years as a software engineer at IBM.

“I think we both had enjoyed working together,” Capoccia said. “The IP group … really dovetails perfectly with our practice.”

Two at a Time

Sharon Weiss and David Weinstein have been steadily working their way up the ranks of bankruptcy law for 13 years. Last week, the two attorneys jumped from Richardson & Patel LLP to become partners in the downtown L.A. office of Denver-based Holme Roberts & Owen.

The two have been working together since 1997, when Weiss was hired by Weinstein as an associate at local boutique Weinstein Eisen & Levine. Weiss eventually was promoted to a name partner at what became Weinstein Weiss & Ordubegian. In 2008, they moved to the slightly larger Westwood firm Richardson & Patel, which boasts about 40 attorneys. Holme Roberts & Owen, with about 230 attorneys in 10 cities, is the largest firm at which either has worked.

“We actually like each other,” Weiss said with a laugh. “We very much complement each other in our styles, and we think and see things from different perspectives. And I think the client benefits from that.”

Their combined book of business has amounted to between $2 million and $2.5 million a year. Weiss and Weinstein, who have worked on a broad range of bankruptcy cases, hope to expand their Holme Roberts & Owen’s connections.

“It’s just a much richer and broader experience, with a much broader client base and broader professional contacts and expertise,” Weinstein said. “We think it opens interesting and hopefully challenging possibilities.”

Staff reporter Alfred Lee can be reached at alee@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 221.

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