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.

“As the agency has come up to speed, we realized we should probably assemble the people who are familiar with these areas and focus them on this agency,” said task force co-head Michael Thurman.

In addition to lenders, the agency could target any other type of company offering a financial service, including retail clients that issue credit cards as part of loyalty programs or product financing.

“What we’ve been telling clients is if you have a consumer financial-type product and you’re getting complaints related to that product, that is an area you need to focus on,” said Michael Mallow, co-head of the new task force and chair of the firm’s consumer protection defense department. “Whether it’s a matter of making adjustments to try to address those complaints or gathering evidence that the complaints are unwarranted, do it now, because the CFPB is going to be driven by complaints by consumers.”

IP Connection

When a team of intellectual property attorneys including Richard de Bodo left Hogan Lovells for the Century City office of DLA Piper in 2010, they brought with them a renowned intellectual property practice as well as a number of Japanese clients. DLA quickly added two other IP attorneys with ties to Japan, Henry Koda and Bill Androlia.

Now the group is expanding its client base further into Asia with the hiring of Franklin D. Kang, an attorney who brings a roster of clients mostly based in South Korea. Kang, the first lateral partner addition to DLA’s L.A. intellectual property group since the de Bodo team, was previously at L.A. firm Latham & Watkins LLP.

Kang, 41, is primarily a patent litigator but also advises Korea-based clients on transactional matters. He represented Korean apparel conglomerate E-Land in its bid to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers out of bankruptcy earlier this year.

He said that he had some problems with conflicts of interest at Latham and hoped he could build a wider base of Korean clients at his new home.

“It was a superior fit for me in terms of the platform. DLA has more global offices, a diverse practice base and has a very strong Korea practice,” he said.

Kang will split time between the firm’s downtown L.A. and Century City offices. He also expects to spend time in a planned DLA office in Seoul, which may open this year.

De Bodo, co-chair of DLA’s patent litigation practice, said Kang would be a welcome addition.

“You like to have high-quality standards, and someone like Frank, of course, completely satisfies them and brings something new. That’s the kind of person you really want to add to a practice,” he said.

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

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