After 19 years of government service, a senior leader from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown Los Angeles is heading to one of the city’s premier litigation boutiques.

Robert Dugdale, who until recently served as the chief of the criminal division for the Central District of California – a region which includes Los Angeles – will start as a partner in Kendall Brill & Kelly’s Century City office on May 2. He said that while the decision was difficult, he was excited to start a new chapter in his career as an attorney.

“It was a very tough decision,” Dugdale said. “Practicing as an (assistant U.S. attorney) really is the greatest job you can have, but I sort of ran out of ways to challenge myself here and wanted to find something new.”

Dugdale took part in some of the office’s highest-profile cases during his tenure as a federal prosecutor. He successfully tried a federal death penalty case – the only one in California in more than 60 years – where the defendants kidnapped and killed five victims, dumping their bodies in a reservoir north of Yosemite.

As the attorney leading the L.A. office’s criminal division in recent years, he was integral in bringing charges against an array of defendants. He helped develop the 2013 insider-trading case against L.A. KPMG partner Scott London, who passed along tips on companies such as Herbalife Ltd. and Skechers USA Inc. to a friend. He was also involved in the numerous Fashion District money-laundering cases filed in 2014 and the ongoing prosecution of Paul Ciancia, the gunman who opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport in 2013. That case goes to trial in August.

Dugdale said his experience matches well with Kendall Brill’s white-collar crime practice and that he chose the boutique firm over larger suitors because he liked the entrepreneurial environment and because the firm had a record of trying cases.

“I came to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in part to try and perfect the art of trying a case,” he said. “Going to Kendall Brill gives me the opportunity to keep doing that.”

New Loyola Dean

Pulling from the institution’s faculty ranks, Loyola Law School has named Michael Waterstone dean. Waterstone, a professor specializing in disability and civil rights law, will take over the top post in June.

The appointment comes at a fraught time for law schools overall. Enrollment and bar passage are both down nationwide in recent years and discussions about the future of legal education have been widespread. Waterstone said he was excited to shepherd Loyola through any storms, but felt the downtown L.A. school was well prepared to be a leader in a new style of legal training.

“What it means to be a lawyer is changing rapidly,” Waterstone said. “But Loyola is positioned really well to educate our students to exercise sound judgment in this new world order as soon as they graduate.”

The newly appointed dean said the school’s focus on connecting students with its alumni networks would continue to be a priority. He said theoretical academic experience needed to be balanced against the reality that job offers for Loyola graduates are of paramount concern.

“Student invest a lot of time and money in law school and we need to make sure they have meaningful, satisfying careers on the back end,” Waterstone said. “We need to help them build their networks and ultimately get a job.”

Legal Landscape

Reed Smith has added entertainment lawyer Leif Reinstein to the firm’s Century City office. Reinstein, who left Rosenfeld Meyer & Susman, brings with him clients Miramax and Viacom Media Networks. Reinstein’s addition to the firm comes on the heels of a recent departure: Kelley Drye & Warren has poached Miles Cooley, a business and entertainment partner formerly at Reed Smith, for its Century City office last month. … Mark Hiraide has joined Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in its West L.A. office. Hiraide comes to the firm after 20 years practicing with the late Lee Petillon at the securities law boutique Petillon Hiraide. … Seyfarth Shaw has added two partners to its real estate practice in downtown Los Angeles, Gregg Bernhard and Gordon Peery.

Latham Revamps Office

Latham & Watkins is set to unveil a redesigned space in Century City this week, a year and a half after it opened the office. The new layout pays homage to Los Angeles, according to the firm, with murals depicting famous movie scenes and iconic sports moments. The space was designed to accommodate the office’s growth – it has gone from six attorneys and a lone staff member to 30 attorneys and 19 staff – and is 16.5 percent larger than Latham’s old digs.

Staff reporter Henry Meier can be reached at or (323) 549-5225, ext. 221.

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