After establishing its presence on the West Coast for more than a century, Loeb & Loeb is finally opening an office in San Francisco after hiring a group of six trusts and estates lawyers from Cooley.
The group, led by partners Audrey Scott, Myron Sugarman and Nicole Webb, also includes associates Alison Sundberg, Jessica Mills and Elizabeth Mak. The team focuses on estate planning and wealth management for high-net-worth individuals and families.
“We have been wanting to open the San Francisco office for a really long time, and to do that we needed critical mass,” said Loeb & Loeb partner Leah Bishop, co-chair of the firm’s trusts and estates department and its family office group. “When the Cooley group came to us, I kept teasing them [that it's like] we’re opening a high-end mall and suddenly we have our anchor tenants. To have a group as distinguished as this group, with the client base they have, gives instant credibility in opening the office there.”
Loeb & Loeb’s new Bay Area base, located at Two Embarcadero Center within San Francisco’s Financial District, is going to be led by Scott, who previously served as head of Cooley’s estate planning and personal representation group. The office marks Loeb & Loeb’s sixth location in the U.S. and its eighth worldwide.
Loeb & Loeb has more than 60 lawyers in its trusts and estates department. The recruits from Cooley will further complement the firm’s emphasis on that practice, one that handles matters ranging from sophisticated business planning to high-stakes trust, estate and conservatorship litigation.
“We have, even before this, one of the greatest trust and estate practices, in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago,“ said Loeb & Loeb chairman Kenneth Florin, a New York-based partner elected to the firm’s top leadership role on Feb. 1 of this year. “Having one in San Francisco really solidifies what we think is the best [trusts and estates] practice in the country.”
Florin anticipates that his firm’s San Francisco location will continue to expand and offer a full range of services, including a capacity for corporate and capital markets, intellectual property, litigation and real estate work. His new colleagues are just as confident.
“Myron and I have built a great practice together—I have been doing this for 18 years, and Myron for 46 years,” said Scott, noting that they were lured to Loeb & Loeb by the firm’s capabilities in other areas, such as a corporate group and family office, nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations practices that complement their trusts and estates expertise.
Scott, whose practice includes advising family offices on multi-generational estate planning and governance issues, as well as creating and advising tax-exempt organizations, said the move to Loeb & Loeb will allow her team to take the platform it has already built and expand it.
“It was a very easy choice for us,” added Sugarman, whose family has been in San Francisco for more than 150 years, when asked about the move to Loeb & Loeb.
Sugarman had been a partner in Cooley’s business department from 1977 to 2012. He also once served as head of the firm’s estate planning and personal representation practice and continued to work full-time out of San Francisco, where he was most recently senior counsel at Cooley. His experience involves all areas of federal and local taxation, with an emphasis on estate planning, deferred compensation, taxation of nonprofit and charitable institutions, and family and personal tax planning.
Webb joined Cooley in 2008. Prior to moving to Loeb & Loeb as a partner, she was an associate in Cooley’s estate planning and personal representation practice group, where she focused her practice on estate and gift taxation, the tax and non-tax aspects of estate planning, structuring wealth transfers to charitable and non-charitable recipients and planning for incapacity.
A Cooley spokesman said the firm wished its departing lawyers well in their future endeavors. Cooley, which has been busy this year expanding in other practice areas, is not the first growing global firm to move away from trusts and estates work. When Debevoise & Plimpton left the space in 2013, it was Loeb & Loeb that brought on a seven-lawyer team led by partner Jonathan Rikoon in New York.
Last year Loeb & Loeb landed a six-lawyer trusts and estates team from Sidley Austin, including the former leader of the latter’s wealth management practice, in Chicago. Florin, Loeb & Loeb’s leader, said that his firm is now approaching the 400-lawyer mark after opening in San Francisco and snapping up roughly a dozen lawyers from Winston & Strawn in May.
Loeb & Loeb’s gross revenue increased by 14 percent last year, to $306.2 million. Percentage-wise, the firm saw the most growth in Chicago over the past few months, Florin said. While Loeb & Loeb saw an entertainment team in Los Angeles depart earlier this year for Paul Hastings, the firm added entertainment industry veteran Michael Helfant in July as of counsel in the city, where it also recently welcomed aboard commercial lending senior counsel Patricia Whitten and data privacy of counsel Allison Hoff Cohen.
Florin also noted that five of the six new hires from Cooley are female, which align with Loeb & Loeb’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Other female leaders at the firm include trusts and estates deputy practice chair Alyse Pelavin, who was named managing partner of Loeb & Loeb’s Los Angeles office earlier this year, New York office leader and fellow trusts and estates lawyer Laurie Ruckel and Nashville office administrative partner Tiffany Dunn.