When former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno starts his job at Irell & Manella LLP next week, he’ll take on duties different from the ones he had for the previous 10 years.

While Moreno will handle some appellate work, the 62-year-old also will conduct independent investigations, handle mediation, and recruit potential partners and associates.

“They are affording me maximum flexibility, and I think they see value in that,” said Moreno, who will begin working as of counsel at the Century City firm March 14, two weeks after his retirement from the state Supreme Court.

John Hueston, a member of the firm’s executive committee who was himself recruited in 2006 after his high-profile Enron prosecutions, helped lure Moreno.

“What distinguishes Irell is that it is a nimble and lean litigation powerhouse that does not force, much less encourage, people to specialize in particular disciplines.,” he said.

The move also shortens Moreno’s commute. He had been flying to the San Francisco court from his Eagle Rock home since his 2001 appointment.

Moreno said his proudest moment on the high court was his lone dissent in Strauss v. Horton, the 2008 case that upheld Proposition 8, the state’s ban on gay marriage. He also was considered a leading candidate to replace David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, but was passed over for Sonia Sotomayor.

“That time’s passed,” he said. “Whatever disappointment I had was short-lived and I moved on.”

Leaving Akin Gump

A group of six partners has left the Century City office of Dallas-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP to start a new L.A. office for Barnes & Thornburg LLP, an Indianapolis firm.

The group includes David Allen, managing partner of Akin Gump’s Century City office since it opened in 1997. Allen will not start until the summer, after he finishes work on a real estate arbitration case that would have posed a conflict of interest at the new firm.

The other five partners are Stephen Mick, Kevin Rising, Jason Karlov, Kyle Kirwan and Scott Witlin. They’re currently working in a temporary office in Century City but expect to move to more permanent digs soon.

The new office will focus on litigation, labor and employment cases and transactional work in the media and entertainment industries. Alan Levin, Barnes & Thornburg’s managing partner, said the new office is part of a string of expansions.

Allen, 52, said the main reason for the group’s departure was to lower their rates for clients.

“Over the last couple years we’ve been hearing consistently from clients that they are getting their internal budgets slashed pretty significantly,” he said. “We needed to get to a lower-cost platform at a firm run more efficiently.”

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

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