The Los Angeles real estate practice has picked up noticeably during the past year, according to Frederick Allen, senior partner and founder of Los Angeles’ Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis, which operates a large real estate practice.

“We can see it on the ground,” he said. “We’re helping people do everything — sales, leasing, acquisitions of hotels, office buildings, industrial parks, shopping centers.”

The firm weathered the recession by leaning on real estate litigation work for banks and lenders, Allen said. It also handled environmental cleanup and labor matters.

Legal hiring in the city remains flat, he said — especially for young lawyers as firms make the most of their budgets by focusing on lateral hires. Allen Matkins has brought on four new attorneys in Los Angeles as other firms downsized or closed, he said. He attributed Allen Matkins’ stability to its diversified practices and its resistance to expanding beyond the state line. The firm’s 226 attorneys are clustered in and around Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

“A lot of firms had overexpanded and overextended, and that’s what we didn’t do,” Allen said. “We stayed home, so we concentrated on Califor­nia markets, all up and down the state.”