Silicon Valley law firm Cooley LLP’s opening of a Santa Monica office is the latest sign that the L.A. tech sector is gaining notice elsewhere in the country.

The firm is known for working with tech companies and is the first major Silicon Valley firm to expand into the L.A. area.

“Within Los Angeles, the only part of the city that’s growing is the technology sector,” said David Hernand, the new partner-in-charge at Cooley’s Santa Monica outpost. “We’ve seen a constant trend of large companies moving out of Los Angeles and they’re being replaced with a very vibrant community of fast-growing technology and new-media companies.”

Cooley’s office opened with six attorneys in a temporary space on Broadway Street three weeks ago. In addition to Hernand, who was former co-chair of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s media, entertainment and technology practice group, Cooley recruited partners David Young and Christopher Shoff from DLA Piper and Jennifer Massey from Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein & Kohner PC.

The four partners focus on venture capital and corporate dealmaking for technology companies, but eventually the office will be full service, Hernand said, with intellectual property and litigation practices as well. He and the firm are planning an aggressive growth strategy, expecting to reach 20 attorneys within one year and 50 to 100 within five.

The firm will move next month into a space at 1333 Second St., just blocks from the beach and in a floor previously occupied by Google Inc.

Hernand, 45, said the major trend in the local tech industry was the convergence of technology and media, citing as an example video game content website Machinima.com, a client that he advised in a venture capital round earlier this year. He also pointed to the rise of e-commerce sites that make use of social media, such as Beachmint Inc., ShoeDazzle.com and JustFab.com (see story on page 1), and of advertising technology companies.

“There are many within the tech community who think L.A. lacks venture capital relative to the opportunity, that it lacks the legal infrastructure to support the technology community,” he said. “Cooley opening an office here is a significant step toward getting the vibrant tech community here the infrastructure it needs to thrive and grow.”

New Task Force

Banks have been closely watching the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since the regulatory agency was created last year.

In its first enforcement action, the CFPB ordered Capital One Bank last month to pay $210 million to settle charges of tricking credit card consumers into paying for add-on services. Now that the agency is up and running, Century City law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP has created a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau task force to advise lenders and other clients on potential enforcement actions and investigations. The task force is a part of its consumer protection defense department.

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