L.A.’s largest firm by revenue is moving further into the growing local startup scene.
Latham & Watkins LLP announced last week that it had hired Dan Burnham to head its emerging companies practice group in Los Angeles.
Latham has long been a player both locally and nationally in emerging companies work, handling IPOs for tech companies including Santa Monica’s Demand Media Inc. and Woodland Hills’ ReachLocal Inc. But Burnham’s addition gives the firm added focus in the earliest stages.
“We’ve been looking to complement the practice we’ve already got here with someone like Dan, who is exclusively focused on the space,” said Alex Voxman, co-chairman of the firm’s L.A. corporate department.
Burnham, who had been with downtown boutique firm Strategic Law Partners LLP for more than a decade, has a list of clients that includes Playa Vista online ad company Rubicon Project and Pasadena business incubator Idealab.
“I find that early stage companies will benefit from the added resources of a big firm,” he said. “I think there’s a perception out there that because Latham does more than other firms, we don’t do my practice as well, but there’s a tremendous emerging companies practice at Latham.”
A global powerhouse, Latham is the largest firm based in Los Angeles by firmwide revenue, at $2.2 billion last year, and fourth by local attorney head count. It has 31 offices around the world.
Atlanta’s Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP opened an L.A. office in February, hoping to tap into the city’s entertainment base, and media and tech boom with its acquisition of seven-attorney Beverly Hills intellectual property boutique Keats McFarland & Wilson.
Now, two new additions expand the firm’s local presence beyond IP. They are David Graber, a transactional entertainment lawyer and former general counsel for L.A. animation company Wild Brain Entertainment Inc., and Mary Craig Calkins, an insurance recovery attorney hailing from Jenner & Block LLP.
The hires bring the firm’s attorney head count in Los Angeles to 10. Local Managing Partner Larry McFarland said the firm might be adding one or two more insurance recovery attorneys, and will continue to look to hire in the commercial litigation, patent litigation and corporate transactional areas.
“The whole goal is to have the L.A. office be a full-service office,” he said.
Graber, who at one time headed business affairs at DreamWorks Home Entertainment, said he was attracted by the opportunity to grow an entertainment transactional practice from the ground up.
Calkins, meanwhile, has worked with entertainment clients as well as a broader range of companies. She represents corporate policyholders suing or negotiating with insurance companies. Clients include News Corp. and Petco Animal Supplies Inc.
She is also the third insurance recovery partner to leave Jenner & Block’s L.A. office in recent months. Jerold Oshinsky and Linda Kornfeld left Jenner last month to start a new Century City office for New York’s Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP.
New York’s Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck LLP is in growth mode in Los Angeles, recently landing six new attorneys at its Brentwood offices.
The new group is led by partners Dean B. Herman and Hee Young Lee, and comes from the downtown L.A. offices of Mendes & Mount LLP, another New York firm.
The addition boosts Kaufman’s attorney head count in Los Angeles to 23, according to its website. Lee, who will have a leadership role in the L.A. office, expects several more attorneys to join in the coming weeks. She said the head count could be more than 30 by the end of next year. Kaufman opened its L.A. office in 2009.
“There’s an emphasis on growth and they’re at a very exciting point in the firm,” she said.
The group specializes in insurance and business litigation, and collectively brings a book of business of more than $3 million. Clients include Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and Hanover Insurance Group Inc.
Herman, who will serve as co-chairwoman of the firm’s national insurance-bad faith practice group, said the L.A. office’s future growth will be spread out between insurance, employment liability and legal malpractice groups.
“The firm is not growing for growth’s sake,” he said. “There are people at the firm who’ve established very strong relationships with clients who want the firm to take on more work for them and it’s a question of meeting those needs.”
Staff reporter Alfred Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 549-5225, ext. 221.
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