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JERSEY FIRM HOPES CALIFORNIA IS GARDEN STATE Ira Rosenberg doesn’t waste much time. He moved to the Bay Area in September, and by October had hired four local lawyers and was shopping for bigger digs. Rosenberg is the managing partner of a local office for yet another East Coast firm lured to the region and its tech economy. His firm, Newark, N.J.-based Sills Cummis Radin Tischman Epstein & Gross, has had a tiny office in San Francisco since January 2002. The three-person office was centered around a single client, but the partner who handled those matters has since relocated his practice to Atlanta, Rosenberg said. So Rosenberg, the head of his firm’s life sciences practice, relocated west to build the office. Sills Cummis is a full-service corporate firm with about 170 lawyers in New Jersey and New York. Last year, the firm generated about $70 million in revenues and logged profits per partner of roughly $500,000, Rosenberg said. Rosenberg said he is tickled to have the opportunity to bolster his firm’s West Coast presence. He’s moving his group from its current digs at One Embarcadero Center to One Market St., where Sills Cummis inked a lease deal for 9,000 square feet of space. That’s more than double the 4,000 square feet the firm had in the Embarcadero, Rosenberg said. The firm is taking space that once housed Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison’s real estate group. Rosenberg said Brobeck’s lease had expired so the vacancy isn’t related to Brobeck’s dissolution. Rosenberg is recruiting on all fronts. “I want to built this into a full-service firm,” Rosenberg said. “I call it a firm instead of an office.” He’s saving the offices with the best views for potential newcomers. He said he can see himself throwing his arm over a shoulder and gesturing toward the Bay view, saying something like “this could be yours.” For starters, Rosenberg hired former Cooley Godward immigration partner Kimberly Fanning because the firm has an active immigration practice on the East Coast. Rosenberg also hired two immigration associates and a third to specialize in transactions. He plans to keep hiring. His new space will hold about 18 lawyers but he has options on more. For now, he’s recruiting specialists in practices the firm has on the East Coast. That includes bankruptcy, real estate and litigation, including construction and products liability litigation. The firm’s biggest clients include Schering-Plough Corp., Becton, Dickinson and Co., and casino operator Park Place Entertainment Corp., and its leasing practice represents the likes of Eddie Bauer Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. “There are a lot of opportunities with attorneys moving around,” Rosenberg said. After things are rolling, Rosenberg said he hopes the office can begin building new practice groups with the new hires. “We’re an entrepreneurial shop,” he said, “and I’m hoping some of those people find it attractive to be No. 1.” – Renee Deger LAP OF LUXURY It was Brobeckmania in San Diego last week. Partners from a half dozen law firms jostled to capture the attention of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison lawyers, particularly those in the corporate and intellectual property groups. In one conference room, Larry Sonsini pitched what Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati had to offer, while partners from Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, Morrison & Foerster and Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker held court in adjacent rooms. “It was wild,” said David Doyle, an IP partner in MoFo’s San Diego office. He said he saw Brobeck lawyers hop into a 20-person stretch limousine Wednesday morning to trek to Paul, Hastings’ Los Angeles office. Pillsbury Winthrop and New York’s Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft also sent in top players to plug their firms. Pillsbury Firmwide Managing Partner Marina Park led a six-partner delegation that included Sue Hodges, managing partner of the firm’s San Diego office; Michael Garrett, head of the business department in San Diego; IP litigator Daniel Minteer; labor and employment partner George Howard Jr; and corporate partner David Odrich, who joined Pillsbury from Brobeck’s East Palo Alto office last fall. Since Brobeck management announced Jan. 30 that the firm would be disbanding, competitors from around the country have been vying to pick up Brobeck’s top talent. San Diego’s 36-lawyer intellectual property group is one of the firm’s hottest properties. “I’ve been in the business for 26 years and this is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” Doyle said. Oh, and apparently, the little touch of limo luxury helped. Paul, Hastings is expected to close the deal for the group this week. — Brenda Sandburg CAN’T WIN FOR LOSING Every law firm has fee disputes with its clients. But the squabble between Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe and Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. is remarkable for its truly Pyrrhic properties. For nearly a year and a half, the two sides have been locked in an acrimonious battle over Gemstar’s refusal to pay Heller for services rendered. The dispute has made its way through a non-binding arbitration, a San Francisco Superior Court discovery department hearing and, last week, the First District Court of Appeal. The amount at stake: $32,628.53 (with interest). It’s absolutely nuts, says Joel Adler, a San Francisco attorney representing Heller. The dispute involves Heller partner Robert Badal’s antitrust work for Gemstar (which recorded $1.3 billion in 2001 revenues). Gemstar has labeled Heller’s work “unproductive” and “duplicative,” and claims that Heller continued to work on certain matters even after the company sent it instructions to stop. Heller contends the allegations are untrue. James Doroshow, a Los Angeles lawyer representing Gemstar did not return calls for comment. Adler won’t say how much Heller has spent trying to recover the 32 grand, but acknowledges that the costs for all parties eclipsed the amount at issue “a long time ago.” “It’s a disgrace is what it is,” says Adler. “The matter should have been resolved by now.” – Alexei Oreskovic PAR FOR THE COURSE Fredric Nelson is adding a big chunk of pro bono work to his full-time litigation practice — and he’s in heaven because of it. The Thelen Reid & Priest partner is the new volunteer general counsel of the U.S. Golf Association, a dream job for lawyers who golf. The Far Hills, N.J.-based USGA is the official rulemaking body for golf in the United States and Mexico and determines equipment standards. It also runs 14 tournaments — including the U.S. Open, the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Senior Open — and Nelson has a ticket to the greens. But don’t think the gig means Nelson gets to play the game with abandon. He kicked off his one-year term as golf’s top lawyer Feb. 1 by attending a weeklong golf conference in San Diego. He didn’t play a single hole. “It’s not the sort of thing you do because you think you’re going to play a lot of golf,” Nelson said. “I would have loved to have played golf, but business comes first.” Nelson’s longtime golf buddy, Frank “Sandy” Tatum Jr., a retired Cooley Godward partner and former USGA president, nominated him for the job. The USGA farms out the GC job to volunteers on a rotating basis, and there appears to be no shortage of willing workers. Nelson had to undergo a rigorous interview process. The 57-year-old Nelson, who started playing golf in his early 40s as a way to bond with his father-in-law, said he’s not deterred by the hard work involved. “The real perk is to be close to the center of what’s happening in the game,” Nelson said. – Renee Deger

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