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Finding it hard to compete as a small firm, the 10-year-old Emeryville litigation boutique Legal Strategies Group has decided to merge with Townsend and Townsend and Crew. Six of the firm’s eight partners and six of its associates and affiliate counsel will be joining Townsend’s San Francisco office March 1. “Over the last few years as there has been more consolidation in the legal practice it’s been harder to attract more complex cases from bigger clients,” said Peter Goldsmith, managing partner of Legal Strategies. “We felt Townsend would be a better platform to attract and do the complex commercial litigation we enjoy.” The late William Brockett Jr., who split from what was then Keker, Brockett & Van Nest, founded Legal Strategies in 1994. Brockett said at the time that the Keker firm, which had 23 lawyers, had grown too big. He started Legal Strategies with three partners from Heller Ehrman White & McAullife — including Goldsmith — and former Townsend partner Louise Ma. The firm avoided a rigid hierarchy, modeling itself after other big-firm spinoffs like the Venture Law Group, which last year merged with Heller. While the firm occasionally hired associates, the majority of non-partner attorneys have been contract attorneys, which the firm refers to as affiliate counsel. The model has given attorneys the flexibility to work part-time while Legal Strategies has expanded or contracted its staffing depending on the amount of work. Townsend Chairman James Gilliland Jr. said some of the affiliate counsel would join as associates and others as of counsel, depending on whether they want a full-time schedule. Goldsmith said Legal Strategies had merger discussions with one other firm as well but decided that 156-lawyer Townsend was the best fit. He said Townsend’s intellectual property and antitrust practice meshes with Legal Strategies’ complex commercial litigation focus. The fact that Townsend is a mid-size specialty firm is also appealing, he said. Gilliland said that when Townsend set out to expand its litigation capabilities, Legal Strategies immediately came to mind. “They have an outstanding trademark infringement practice” and do a lot of antitrust work, Gilliland said. “And they have excellent complex commercial litigation, and that’s an area of our practice we’re trying to build on for our technology clients.” The two firms do not have any clients in common. Levi Strauss & Co. is one of Legal Strategies’ biggest clients. It also represents Tyco Electronics Corp., Williams-Sonoma Inc. and Mexican cement company CEMEX, S.A. de C. V., among others. Legal Strategies partner Karen Frank left the firm a few days ago to join Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin. Partner Ralph Alldredge also is joining another firm, but he said he could not discuss the move since it had not yet been finalized. In the meantime, in addition to his litigation work, Alldredge said he would be devoting time to the Calaveras Enterprise, the San Andreas semi-weekly newspaper that he owns and publishes.

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