Real estate and commercial litigation boutique Gilchrist & Rutter joined Philadelphia law firm Cozen O’Connor last week, becoming Cozen’s new Santa Monica outpost.

Cozen brought on 10 attorneys from Gilchrist – including eight partners – in the deal, according to a spokeswoman for Cozen.

The transaction expands the firm’s real estate and commercial litigation practice on the West Coast, building its presence in Los Angeles and the state as well as Cozen’s overall national profile, said Chief Executive Michael J. Heller.

“Our practice in Los Angeles (deals with) litigation, primarily, and labor and employment, so one of our strategic planning items is to continue to build our transactional practices in Los Angeles,” Heller said. “Acquiring the Gilchrist Rutter firm gives us a tremendous platform to continue to grow our transactional practice in the Los Angeles area.”

Cozen also has California offices in San Diego and San Francisco in addition to a downtown L.A. office and its new Santa Monica presence.

“We have a number of Los Angeles-area clients and that’s why this is a great opportunity for us to continue to cross-collaborate with our lawyers all around the country,” Heller said. “(The new Santa Monica office) will be our 26th branch. We have 700 lawyers and 26 offices (across the country).”

Gilchrist represents the city of Los Angeles and county in negotiating and documenting development agreements with Related Cos. of California for the mixed-used Grand Avenue Project downtown. Gilchrist also represented the landlord of the Water Garden office property in Santa Monica in a lease deal for Oracle Corp. late last year.

Gilchrist Managing Partner Jonathan Gross will transition to managing partner of Cozen’s Santa Monica office as part of the law firm shuffle. Gross said the deal was effective as of Oct. 1.

“I think we bring a stronger regional presence to Cozen O’Connor,” he said. “We think that’s exciting both for our new partners and us. … We’ve begun to see the sharing of contacts and potential contacts and growing our business together. It’s been a very exciting and eye-opening experience and the potentials are already beginning to be realized.”

– Neil Nisperos

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