It turns out a book of business isn’t mandatory to getting a new firm off the ground. Southern California lawyers William “Chris” Manderson, John Schafer and Lance McKinlay say a reputation, contacts and a good deal on a lease gave them a jump start. The rest is a hustling attitude and a bit of luck.

The three former Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker associates reassembled in November to open Manderson, Schafer & McKinlay in Newport Beach. The firm, which has since added a fourth lawyer, focuses on corporate work and investor-side bankruptcy work. One of their biggest clients is investment group Signature Group Holdings, which in late April got creditor and shareholder approval to acquire bankrupt subprime mortgage lender Fremont General Corp.

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