Downtown L.A.’s Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is shaking up its business model for the second time this year. This time, the business litigation powerhouse plans to revamp its traditional summer associate program.

This year, and in years past, Quinn Emanuel has hired between 50 and 60 second-year law students into its program. Starting next year, the firm will only host a handful – likely between five and 10 students – in the program, said John Quinn, founding partner.

Because the program only lasts a couple of months, Quinn said it’s extremely tough to get summer associates heavily involved in a case before it’s time for them to return to law school. Plus, he added, the program is not cheap.

“It’s very, very expensive and clients increasingly don’t want summer associates working on their cases, even though we think they do very good work at a very reasonable rate,” Quinn said, noting that he does not know the exact cost of the program.

The plan moving forward is to reallocate the money Quinn Emanuel would spend on the summer associate program to provide larger signing bonuses to law school graduates, third-year students and judicial clerks.

The plan has been in the works for several months, he said, and follows a separate marketing initiative his firm introduced earlier this year that requires associates to complete a marketing project to remain eligible for their annual bonus.

The marketing initiative, introduced in March, has already taken effect and is intended to encourage the firm’s younger lawyers to be more aggressive in generating business.

“You have to learn to be comfortable with marketing and promoting yourself,” Quinn said earlier this year. “Being able to say the words, ‘I would like your work,’ a lot of people – lawyers, especially – have a hard time saying that.”

New Digs

After outgrowing its offices in Encino, Michelman & Robinson has moved into a much larger space in Westwood.

The law firm now occupies the 19th floor of the Oppenheimer Tower at 10880 Wilshire Blvd., which offers about 15,000 more square feet than its former Encino space, said Sanford Michelman, the firm’s co-founder and chairman.

But Michelman said the move, finalized last month, is also poised to help recruit more attorneys to the firm.

“Some people have an adverse reaction to the (San Fernando) Valley,” he said. “I don’t really understand it, but some do. This just removes that issue.”

The firm – which had 34 attorneys in Los Angeles County in March, according to Business Journal data – is growing quickly, Michelman said. Roughly 20 more lawyers are slated to join the firm within the next six months or so.

Health care, hospitality, insurance, advertising and digital media lawyers are in highest demand at the firm, he added, noting that the trend is likely to continue.

Michelman said his firm will have to lease additional space in the Oppenheimer Tower within the next two years or so because of its rapidly growing headcount.

Myriad Mergers

It’s official: Dentons has finalized its merger with McKenna Long & Aldridge.

The deal, announced in April, took effect July 1 – the same day West L.A.’s Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp acquired former Westwood boutique Richardson & Patel.

Both deals mirror a nationwide trend of consolidation in the legal industry. Through the first six months of the year, 48 legal M&A deals have been announced nationwide, according to statistics from Altman Weil Inc., a legal consulting firm in Newtown Square, Pa.

“That’s nearly double the rate in which mergers were announced in 2012,” said Eric Seeger, a principal at Altman Weil. “If we see second-half announcements at anything like this pace, it will be a record year for law firm mergers.”

There is no indication, Seeger added, that consolidation will slow down in the foreseeable future.

“A few years ago, firms were less focused on growth and more focused on making more productive use of what they already had or even streamlining their work force,” he said. “These days, firms are getting back to growth strategies that may have been set aside during the recessionary years.”

News & Notes

Century City litigation boutique Kendall Brill & Kelly changed its name in the wake of the promotion of Phil Kelly. The firm, previously called Kendall Brill & Klieger, elevated Kelly to name partner after Robert Klieger left the firm to join downtown L.A.’s Hueston Hennigan as a partner in the complex civil litigation practice. … Susan Akens has been appointed executive director of UCLA School of Law’s entertainment, media and intellectual law program effective this month. Akens, previously executive vice president of business affairs at CBS Studios International, replaced David R. Ginsburg, who retired last month.

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.