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Polsinelli Shughart has opened a Los Angeles office with the acquisition of Quateman LLP, California’s largest woman-owned municipal bond law firm. The Kansas City, Mo.-based firm acquired Los Angeles-based Quateman on July 1, thereby launching its first location on the West Coast. Firm Chairman Russell Welsh said plans to open an office in Los Angeles were put on hold until about a year ago because of the recession. “Our practice has come back, our M&A has come back, health care is back,” Welsh said. “We had existing relationships in California that have asked us to be there, and the timing was just right.” Lisa Quateman, who founded her firm 22 years ago, is now managing partner of Polsinelli’s Los Angeles office. Quateman said she missed the resources of a large firm but never found a good match, particularly when it comes to rates and practice areas. “We’ve had a fair bit of expertise in a wide variety of areas because we do so much corporate counsel work. But as I’ve seen the years go on, I think we’ve missed some exciting opportunities because we weren’t large enough,” Quateman said. “The idea of opening an office for a firm that has a track record of success in doing so and has a real commitment to this market and clients here is an exciting opportunity to expand professionally for me.” Joining her at Polsinelli are Tracey Ginn and Timothy Reimers, who are principals, and Michael Connell, senior counsel. Two associates, Eric Blum and Donna Mo, also joined. Welsh said the addition of Quateman was less about acquiring a municipal bond law firm than bringing in attorneys who fit with the firm’s other core areas of financial services, real estate and business law. The group from Quateman handles corporate work for middle-market companies — a key client base for Polsinelli, he said. “We didn’t go out there planning to find a municipal bond practice,” he said. “Our goal was to find a group of lawyers who shared our vision and our values and have a practice that fits with ours that we could grow around.” Quateman plans to continue to handle municipal bond work, but said that mergers and acquisitions is a major area of interest for her group. “That’s in particular an area where we have tremendous expertise and capability, but without a deeper bench, it’s a challenge to attract that M&A business,” she said. Polsinelli Shughart was among the five fastest growing law firms in the nation in 2010, according to the NLJ 250, The National Law Journal‘s ranking of the 250 largest law firms. The firm’s headcount rose by 13 percent last year. In May, the firm opened an office in Dallas. Other offices are in Chicago; Denver; Edwardsville, Ill.; Jefferson City, Mo.; Overland Park, Kansas.; New York; Phoenix, Ariz.; St. Joseph, Mo.; Springfield, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Topeka, Kan.; Wilmington, Del.; and Washington, D.C.

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