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Barnes & Thornburg continued its rapid growth in Los Angeles with the addition of seven lawyers from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. David Allen, former managing partner of Akin Gump’s Los Angeles office, has joined as managing partner of the Indianapolis-based firm’s Los Angeles office. His move was announced in February, when Barnes & Thornburg opened a Los Angeles office with five other partners from Akin Gump, but he didn’t join until recently due to a client matter. Joining as partners in Barnes & Thornburg’s litigation department are Peter Mort and Levi Heath, both former partners at Akin Gump. Former of counsel attorneys Sidney Fohrman, a corporate lawyer, and David Nelson, a litigator, join Barnes & Thornburg of counsel. Former associates Joel Meyer and Devin Stone join as associates. The group will focus on complex litigation; labor and employment; and entertainment, media and intellectual property. Alan Levin, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg, said litigators in the group particularly were interested in the firm’s rate structure, which is lower than those charged by most of the larger firms, like Akin Gump. “The litigators in particular felt that with where we’re situated and how we’ve managed ourselves, in a very conservative manner, that we had the opportunity to offer a value-type platform for the clients,” he said. “All in all, if you compare us with the international firms, our rates are closer and more aligned to Midwest firms, so our rates are lower. The whole way we staff projects–we staff them with partners and associates, but it’s not a matter of having the three or four levels of staffing you might see at some bigger firms.” John Karacyznski, partner in charge of Akin Gump’s Los Angeles office, attributed the departures to a “robust lateral market” in the area. He noted that Akin Gump has added 16 lawyers focused on project finance and renewable energy in the past month to its Los Angeles office–a move that will necessitate opening a second office in downtown Los Angeles later this summer. As for the lower rate structures at Barnes & Thornburg, Karacyznski said: “We have a very vibrant dynamic client base here who are comfortable with our services at our rates.” Barnes & Thornburg, which has 550 lawyers in 12 offices nationwide, has been on a rapid growing spree. In 2009, the firm opened offices in Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Wilmington, Del. The Los Angeles office is the first California location for the firm, which has additional offices in Chicago; Fort Wayne, Ind., Grand Rapids, Mich., and Washington. Allen, a litigator, handles commercial contracts, real estate development, environmental chemical exposure and unfair competition disputes. Mort, who specializes in real estate, health care and construction disputes, was a partner, administrator and member of Akin Gump’s management committee. Heath focuses on civil and commercial litigation. Nelson, Meyer and Stone are litigators. Fohrman handles advertising, branding and sponsorships for entertainment companies and licensing for music publishers. He also handles matters for live performance venues. In February, Barnes & Thornburg added Jason Karlov, now chairman of the entertainment and media practice, who represents individuals and institutions in transactional deals in the entertainment industry, including Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Milan. The firm also added Stephen Mick, who represents independent motion picture producers and distributors and other companies in the entertainment industry in intellectual property litigation and arbitration. Levin said he hoped to have more than 20 lawyers in the Los Angeles office by year’s end. “What we’re looking at trying to accomplish is to get critical mass fairly soon,” he said.

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