Century City firm Peitzman Weg has announced it is joining Minneapolis firm Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi, marking the latest shakeup of the bankruptcy law landscape in Los Angeles.

Partner Howard J. Weg attributed his decision to join a national firm to larger trends in the bankruptcy and restructuring market. He said it has become more difficult for bankruptcy boutiques to compete with larger firms that have litigation support.

“It’s become increasingly important in the restructuring world and the Chapter 11 business practice to become competitive on a national platform and to have very deep litigation capability,” he said. “Robins Kaplan will give us a competitive advantage in so many of the significant national cases that continue to be filed where part of the restructuring process is driven by the backdrop of actual or potential litigation.”

As bankruptcy filings drop nationally, larger firms are also fighting for more midmarket work, he added.

“The large national firms that have hundreds of lawyers have built up significant bankruptcy groups across the country,” he said. “And the big firms have moved into competing for a smaller pool of cases nationally.”

The move follows the dissolution last month of Stutman Treister & Glatt, for decades one of the premier bankruptcy boutiques in Los Angeles. Weg, 59, said his 15-year-old firm has remained busy with restructuring work, and he framed the move as “two successful firms coming together to be more successful.”

Seven to eight attorneys will join him in the move. They include Partners Scott F. Gautier, James P. Menton Jr. and David B. Shemano. Weg will chair Robins Kaplan’s firmwide restructuring and business bankruptcy group. Name Partner Lawrence Peitzman will retire from private practice.

The additions bring Robins Kaplan’s attorney count to more than 30 in its Century City outpost, according to Roman Silberfeld, office managing partner. The office was down to 25 attorneys at the beginning of this year, but Silberfeld has plans to expand, especially in entertainment litigation and intellectual property, and said additional hires could be forthcoming.

“We’re open to new and interesting opportunities, and the Peitzman Weg move is an example of that,” he said.

Growth Spurt

Polsinelli of Kansas City, Mo., has used a wave of acquisitions and midmarket rates to become one of the fastest-growing law firms in the country, jumping to more than 720 attorneys from fewer than 300 attorneys in 2008 and nearly tripling its revenues during that span.

Its Century City outpost, opened in 2011, has played a role in that expansion, and the firm’s national success has made it an easy sell here. The local office added three shareholders this month from firms with a large presence in the market – litigator Noel Cohen from Manatt Phelps & Phillips, insurance recovery litigator Richard C. Giller from Alston & Bird and health care attorney Travis F. Jackson from Jones Day. The addition brings the number of attorneys in Los Angeles to 18, three times the size of the office at its opening.

Cohen, 37, said the firm’s rapid expansion appealed to him. He specializes in complex commercial litigation, employment law and class-action defense, representing non-profits, apparel and tech companies, among others.

“To get in on the ground floor of an office that will continue to grow was something you don’t see every day,” he said. “There are not that many times in your legal career where you can be someone that helps grow a newer office of a dominant national firm.”

Lisa Greer Quateman, office managing partner, said the Century City outpost had expanded beyond its original strengths in corporate and transactional work. The office is looking to hire, particularly in real estate, and labor and employment. She also listed corporate, litigation, financial services, life sciences, energy and health care as potential areas of recruitment. The firm is planning to take up additional space in its building, with enough room for about 40 attorneys.

“I think people appreciate our Midwest culture and business model,” she said. “It’s sort of a national phenomenon here.”

The firm also added corporate partner John Babala from McKenna Long & Aldridge last month.

News and Notes

High-stakes trial lawyer Ekwan Rhow has been elevated to name partner at what is now Century City firm Bird Marella Boxer Wolpert Nessim Drooks Lincenberg & Rhow. … The L.A. office of Philadelphia’s Duane Morris has named Cyndie M. Chang office managing partner. … Westwood’s Liner has added Katie A. Jacobsen, formerly a partner in McKenna Long & Aldridge’s real estate group.

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

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