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Drinker Biddle & Reath has added six attorneys in Los Angeles, more than doubling its presence in Southern California and opening an office in Century City, Calif. Before the new hires, the Philadelphia firm had four lawyers in a downtown Los Angeles office that opened in 2001. During the past three years, several lawyers have left that office, leaving one resident partner who practices in mass torts and product liability defense, two associates and one attorney serving as counsel. On Dec. 1, George T. Caplan and Henry Shields Jr., former partners at Epstein Becker & Green‘s Los Angeles office, joined Drinker Biddle’s new office in Century City. “They had an office that was intended to be a substantial office, and some of the people — after the office was originally opened — decided to leave and to start their own practice,” Caplan said. “In effect, Henry and I are restarting their office. That was attractive to us because we both preferred not to relocate into a large, pre-existing office here in Los Angeles.” A third Epstein Becker partner, Kristopher Davis, has joined Drinker Biddle as a partner, and Paul Gelb, who was senior counsel at Epstein Becker, is now of counsel at Drinker Biddle. Rounding out the group are Kate S. Gold, who joined Drinker Biddle as a partner after serving as of counsel in the Los Angeles office of New York’s Kaye Scholer, and Pamela K. Graham, an associate who joined Drinker Biddle from Los Angeles-based Irell & Manella. Caplan said that he and Shields were attracted to Drinker Biddle’s full practice of commercial law. “Generally, this is a much better format for us,” he said. “The Epstein firm is a very good firm, but its practice is limited to employment and health care.” Both lawyers specialize in complex commercial litigation. They have represented Fortune 100 companies in insurance, energy, environment, financial services and real estate matters. Caplan and Shields began their careers at Irell & Manella, where Shields was a member of the executive committee for a decade. In 1992, Caplan joined Dewey Ballantine, now New York’s Dewey & LeBoeuf, where he was head of the Los Angeles office for most of his tenure. He served as head of the Los Angeles office of Kaye Scholer in 2001. He joined Epstein Becker less than two years ago. Shields has represented several entertainment companies, including NBC and CBS, in First Amendment, copyright and privacy rights disputes. He is former chairman of the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference and of its executive committee. He left Irell & Manella about a year ago to join Epstein Becker. Davis, who also started his career at Irell & Manella, handles complex commercial litigation, particularly for clients in the entertainment and energy industries. Gelb, who worked at Kaye Scholer, specializes in appellate law and has handled cases involving intellectual property, securities, ERISA and employment. Gold, formerly of Kaye Scholer, specializes in labor and employment law. She has handled cases involving wrongful termination, retaliation, work injuries, family leave and disability discrimination, trade secrets and sexual, race and age harassment. Graham, the former Irell & Manella associate, focuses on civil litigation involving torts, subprime mortgage disputes, securities fraud and tax shelters. Drinker Biddle & Reath has about 700 lawyers in 12 offices, including more than 30 in San Francisco. The firm has not been immune from the recession. Earlier this year, Drinker Biddle reduced first-year associate starting salaries to $105,000 for the first six months of 2009, replacing the compensation with a training program. “There is no more business as usual for law firms,” Andrew C. Kassner, executive partner at Drinker Biddle, said in a prepared statement. “We are listening to what our clients are saying and giving them what they want. Adding these accomplished litigators in Los Angeles is a significant part of that, as is our overall, firm-wide commitment to providing exceptional value for the best in client service.”

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