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Manager Leaves as Akin Exodus Continues

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has suffered another key departure this time, its local director of administration.


Michael Palmer, who managed the Washington-based firm’s Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palo Alto offices for three and a half years, has become executive director of Los Angeles-based Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP. Palmer said the recent departures at Akin Gump, whose Los Angeles office has dwindled from 139 to 81 lawyers in the past four years, had nothing to do with his decision.


“This was a great opportunity and a good time to move,” he said. “Akin Gump is doing fine. They’ve gone through some turnover, but they’re well positioned to continue to grow.”


Palmer will manage the accounting, building leases and library services of the firm, which has 210 lawyers in six California offices. He also expects to provide administrative support for the practice groups, which include real estate, litigation, bankruptcy, tax, labor and employment and environmental and land use. He replaced James McIntosh, who is retiring after 11 years at Allen Matkins.



Roll Call


Five Los Angeles-based law firms made the Top 100 in the United States, according to American Lawyer magazine’s annual report.


In total 2004 revenue, No. 3 Latham & Watkins LLP was the highest-ranked L.A. firm, with $1.2 billion in revenues, up 16.7 percent from 2003. No. 1 on the American Lawyer list was New York-based Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, at $1.4 billion.


O’Melveny & Myers LLP was No. 16, reporting $697 million, an increase of 6 percent from 2003; and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP was No. 18 at $693 million, with a 7.4 percent increase in revenue.


Other local revenue gainers were No. 22 Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP, at $609 million, and No. 83 Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, with $230 million.


By profits per partner, the top Los Angeles-based firm was Gibson Dunn, at $1.5 million. Latham had $1.4 million, O’Melveny $1.3 million, Paul Hastings $1.2 million and Sheppard Mullin $685 million.



Funeral Lawyer


Susan Rule Sandler has become chief legal counsel for Forest Lawn Memorial Parks & Mortuaries, building on her background in regulatory work.


Sandler was most recently general counsel at Western Dental Services Inc. after serving as associate general counsel at Herbalife International of America Inc. from 1999 to 2003.


Sandler will oversee the day-to-day operations of the nonprofit organization, which includes 950 employees at five memorial parks in Los Angeles and Orange County, plus the for-profit mortuary business. She also is in charge of land acquisitions and park expansion, as well as land use and environmental work involved with Forest Lawn’s existing 1,200 acres.


“You have to have an eye toward conservation and mitigation of the natural habitat, and you have to know what land is for mausoleums, wall crypts and in-ground internment,” she said.



Meal Break


California employers got a break in their attempts to reduce meal-and-rest-period lawsuits after California Labor Commissioner Donna Dell recently determined that employees must file complaints within a year.


Previously, employees had up to three years to file a lawsuit after an alleged violation. The ruling comes as the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement is drafting regulations on state laws regarding required meal and rest breaks for employees.


The ruling stems from a case involving a service technician at Orchard Commercial Inc. in San Jose who claimed that he was working 10- to 13-hour days without lunch breaks. Dell ordered the company to pay the employee $2,142, but clarified that employees who claim missed meal and rest breaks must file their complaints within a year. The prior three-year period allowed higher damage awards.



Comings & Goings


Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan LLP has hired William Mark Levinson as chairman of its corporate finance practice. He was a partner at Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps LLP The former lead prosecutor in the Atlanta rape case that was the setting behind the shooting deaths of a judge, court reporter and deputy has joined Shea Stokes & Carter ALC. Gayle Abramson will be based out of Atlanta but will also work from Los Angeles, where the firm has an 8-person office McDermott Will & Emery has added two lawyers from Hogan & Hartson LLP to its 18-member intellectual property practice in the Los Angeles area. Jessica Cullen Smith, a former associate, will become a partner in McDermott’s Los Angeles offices, and Karen Laub, a former attorney of counsel, joins McDermott’s Orange County office.



*Staff reporter Amanda Bronstad can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 225, or at

abronstad@labusinessjournal.com

.

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