When Gregory Evans left his post as an equity partner at Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy in 2010 to found Integer Law Corp., he was looking for an opportunity to become his own boss.

But after five years of running his boutique litigation firm in downtown Los Angeles, Evans has gone back to Big Law: His five-lawyer shop was acquired by McGuireWoods this month.

The move, he said, was primarily a result of his desperate need to grow his litigation practice quickly to keep up with demand. Had he not approved the deal with McGuireWoods – which boasts more than 1,000 attorneys worldwide – it would have been especially challenging to complete the time-intensive process of screening associate candidates.

“You’re working two jobs and you’re working day and night,” he said. “One, running a business, and two, practicing law. It is difficult to run a law firm and practice law at the same time.”

McGuireWoods, which already had 68 attorneys working from its Century City office, will keep Evans’ practice group downtown.

“It’s not required that your ZIP code be 90071, but it certainly helps,” he said. “The downtown presence has often been associated with a successful litigation practice; it also places us close to city leadership and the courts.”

For now, the plan is for the former Integer team to stay at its U.S. Bank Tower office, but Evans said his new firm is already working with real estate brokers to secure a larger footprint to accommodate potential hires.

In addition to growing the litigation practice, McGuireWoods is looking to beef up its banking and finance group downtown.

“We are looking to grow and grow quickly,” Evans said. “We’ve had quite a lot of interest already, but we want to be guided by quality, not the clock. If it takes a long time, we’re perfectly happy with that.”

Merger Madness

After a rough year that resulted in a 32 percent reduction in attorneys in its L.A. office, Washington law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge will merge with Dentons US later this year, the firms announced this month.

No definitive time line for the transition is in place, but the goal is to combine the firms’ respective downtown L.A. offices sometime this summer, said McKenna Long Chairman Jeff Haidet, a partner in the firm’s Atlanta office.

McKenna Long’s L.A. operations are based in One California Plaza, while Dentons leases space in the nearby Figueroa at Wilshire building. Haidet said he and other executives will soon examine the leases’ expiration dates to help determine the most viable option to combine forces as soon as possible.

At the time of the announcement, McKenna Long had 42 lawyers in Los Angeles and Dentons had 32.

Dentons Chief Executive Peter Wolfson said he expects that clients will benefit from the combination.

“The California market as a standalone market is probably about the fifth-largest economy on the globe,” Wolfson said. “We just believe we have been undersized relative to the size of that market for many, many years.”

The move also comes in the wake of Dentons’ recently announced plans to combine with China’s Dacheng Law Offices, which would create the largest law firm in the world ranked by number of lawyers. Once its merger with McKenna Long is complete, Dentons will have roughly 6,600 lawyers on staff worldwide.

“We’re building the law firm of the future,” said Mike McNamara, Dentons’ U.S. managing partner.

Legal Landscape

David M. Stein has been hired as partner in Alston & Bird’s intellectual property litigation practice group in downtown Los Angeles. He joined from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where he also served as partner. … Jon Rewinski, a partner at Locke Lord in downtown Los Angeles, and David R. Scheidemantle, president and managing partner at Pasadena’s Scheidemantle Law Group, were appointed this month to the board of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. … Law firm DLA Piper hired Mike Piazza this month as a partner in the firm’s litigation practice in Century City. … UCLA School of Law professor Judith Gordon joined legal service provider Organic Communication as a principal this month. … West L.A. health care law firm Fenton Law Group this month hired Herb Weinberg, who specializes in legal matters affecting pharmacies.

Staff reporter Cale Ottens can be reached at cottens@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 221.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.