New York firm Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP has poached two of the region’s most renowned insurance recovery litigators to start an L.A. office.

Jerry Oshinsky and Linda Kornfeld, previously at the downtown L.A. outpost of Chicago’s Jenner & Block LLP, opened the doors of Kasowitz Benson’s new Century City office last week. The two specialize in suing insurance providers on behalf of large corporations and universities seeking to recover money from their insurance policies.

Kornfeld, who heads the new office, said she is looking to hire intellectual property and general litigation attorneys, and that it would be realistic to expect the office to grow to 10 to 20 attorneys within the first year or two. She previously launched the L.A. office of Washington, D.C., firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP in 2005.

Oshinsky, known in legal circles as the dean of the policyholders’ bar, said he is seeing more aggressive coordination among insurance companies in their legal disputes against policyholders. He said joining a large insurance recovery practice would help him fight for his clients.

The move reunites Oshinsky and Kornfeld with Robin Cohen, currently the head of Kasowitz Benson’s insurance recovery group in New York. Oshinsky mentored Cohen out of law school at Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinsky in the 1980s. The three attorneys worked together at Dickstein.

“Jenner was fine and we had no issues there, but I’ve known Robin from the first day she started practicing law,” Oshinsky said. “We’ve all worked very well together.”

Kasowitz has moved into 5,300 square feet in the Century Plaza Towers at 2029 Century Park East. Several other law firms have announced moves into the Century City towers in recent months, including Philadelphia’s Blank Rome LLP; Kansas City, Mo.’s Polsinelli PC; and local boutique Affeld Grivakes Zucker LLP.

Beyond Bankruptcy

Century City’s Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern LLP has long been known as a top bankruptcy boutique.

It’s now branching out into corporate law by adding two new partners from big law’s ranks – Maria Sountas-Argiropoulos and Vijay Sekhon, who respectively hail from O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

“They’re the beginning of a department,” said Michael Tuchin, co-managing partner. “We have the ability to handle matters without significant leveraging and provide service to clients that’s very cost-effective. You can’t do it in every area, but in the corporate area it makes sense.”

Tuchin said the firm hopes to do more work for clients that are not in financial distress, but the new attorneys would also work on corporate deals for companies in the bankruptcy process.

Sountas-Argiropoulos cited the firm’s reputation for flexibility and creative solutions, especially in corporate restructuring, as a reason for her move.

“I think sometimes in big law everyone is very precedent bound, especially in transactional practice,” she said. “But doing something because it was done that way before or because that’s what the market expects may not fit every client’s particular situation.”

The additions have pushed the number of attorneys at the firm to 19, up from about 15 a year ago.

Boutique Firm’s Move

Hobart Linzer LLP was founded in West Los Angeles last year with a focus on handling business litigation for middle-market clients.

Now, a little over a year later, the firm has moved into new digs in downtown Los Angeles to make way for expansion. The five-attorney firm plans to double its head count in the next year or two, having recently added former federal prosecutor Joseph N. Akrotirianakis as a partner. Its new 6,000-square-foot space at 777 S. Figueroa St. is twice the size of its former offices.

Founding Partners Ken A. Linzer and C. Dana Hobart said they’ve had success attracting litigation work at a lower price point than large firms. About one-third of their cases use alternative fee arrangements, such as taking cases on contingency or offering a reduced retainer with a bonus if a case has a successful outcome.

The firm’s clients include smaller local companies such as Great Transamerican Strand Investments Inc. and ink manufacturer Independent Ink Inc. as well as individuals in the entertainment industry such as actors David Arquette and David Cassidy.

“We are able to address our clients’ issues: Are there more creative ways of dealing with the problem and are there more economical ways of dealing with the problem?” Linzer said. “Our clients are happy about our ability to come up with different types of strategies for litigation.”

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

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