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A group of five real estate partners at Pillsbury Winthrop’s Los Angeles office is moving to Piper Rudnick. The group, which includes longtime Pillsbury partner Michael Meyer, formally withdrew from Pillsbury’s partnership on Wednesday, and is expected to start at Piper within 30 days of that date. Two associates are expected to move with the partners. Meyer, who represents tenants in commercial leases, will be joined by partners John Duffy and Jackie Kim Park. John Whitaker, who focuses on land use, and Marshall Taylor, a project finance partner, are also making the move. The departing partners declined to comment or did not return calls for comment. Jeffrey Rosenfeld, the managing partner of Piper’s Los Angeles office, could not be reached for comment. Lewis Feldman, a real estate partner at Pillsbury’s Century City office, said Pillsbury wishes the departing partners well. But he stressed that Pillsbury’s Los Angeles real estate group still counted more than 20 attorneys. Piper has nearly 1,000 attorneys in 14 U.S. offices, and counts real estate among its core practices. The firm posted average profits per equity partner of $675,000 in 2002, compared with $710,000 at Pillsbury. The news represents Piper’s latest play to bolster its West Coast presence. In December, Piper announced plans to merge with San Francisco’s 32-lawyer Steinhart & Falconer. “It’s been no secret that Piper’s been looking for quite a long time to expand themselves and get a foothold here,” said Feldman. “It’s a story more than anything else about people responding to those opportunities than it is about any law firm — Pillsbury or anyone else — going downhill,” he said. Meyer has been with Pillsbury since the 1991 merger with Lillick & McHose. He served for several years on the five-member management committee, which managed Pillsbury’s Los Angeles and Century City offices. His online biography states that he has handled lease transactions for Nestle’s Glendale headquarters, as well as MGM’s lease in Century City.

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