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Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has added an immigration practice to its San Francisco office, hiring three attorneys from Cooley Godward. Partners Lance Nagel and A. James Vazquez-Azpiri made the leap, bringing over sixth-year associate Amy Reinhorn, eight paralegals and such clients as Toyota Motor Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. The group complements Morgan, Lewis’ three-lawyer immigration practice based in Washington, D.C. “Adding a preeminent West Coast practice would enhance our abilities to serve our national clients and be available to them in real time in their own time zone,” said partner Eleanor Pelta, who heads the East Coast practice. The firm focuses on comprehensive immigration management for multinational companies. “In this world of telecommunication, you can e-mail or video-conference or share files,” said Pelta. “But if you want to bring a colleague to the U.S. to collaborate, it is almost a Byzantine process.” Nagel said that the Bay Area is rich in opportunities for immigration law because of its proximity to Asia and because Silicon Valley attracts so many foreign nationals. “They create a tribal trading pattern, going home to their own countries where they develop manufacturing and design centers,” said Nagel. He said Morgan, Lewis’ employment practice also dovetails nicely with his work. Immigration practices have historically resided in boutique firms, although larger firms such as Baker & McKenzie have gotten into the business, noted Marc Van Der Hout, a partner with Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale. Morgan, Lewis also hired partner David Bohrer to join the firm’s intellectual property group in the Palo Alto office. Bohrer was formerly with Dechert’s Palo Alto office.

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