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The San Francisco office of Preston Gates & Ellis is bulking up by merging with S.F. real estate firm Berg & Parker. The addition of seven partners and three associates is effective March 1 and brings Preston’s San Francisco head count to 40. Joining are partners James Berg, David Franklin, David Wiseblood, F. Gale Connor, Robert Ted Parker, Raymond Loughrey and Louise Adamson, as well as associates Deirdre Digrande, Melissa Wurster and Bertram Kaufmann. Two Berg associates and two staffers won’t be joining Preston Gates, said Connor. A third staffer is coming over on a temporary consulting basis. Berg & Parker opened its doors in 1988. “We never thought we would end up merging with a large firm because that was never part of the plan,” said Connor. “We got approached all the time by firms looking for bodies, and that never really appealed to us. But what Preston presented us with was a business plan to build a real estate practice in Northern California.” The firms have been talking since October, and partners on both sides said they were excited about the move. Connor said that Preston Gates sought — to the greatest extent possible — to bring over his entire firm but needed to avoid duplication. “I am quite confident it will be a soft landing,” he said. The new lawyers deepen Preston Gates’ real estate and litigation practices and add creditor rights and insolvency capabilities. James Kleier, a Preston partner, said Berg’s clients include financial institutions, retailers and developers. Preston Gates opened its San Francisco office in 1998 with 12 attorneys. Lawyers in the office handle complex litigation and transactional matters, including IP rights, securities and corporate finance, federal policy, employment law and tax controversy. The firm doesn’t have a specific growth target for the office, Kleier said, but is looking to bulk up the transactional practice. Preston Gates added a partner and two associates to the S.F. office earlier this year. Those lawyers work in Preston’s Asia practice, serving clients doing inbound and outbound business between the United States and China. Principals of Berg & Parker were introduced to Preston Gates by McClure & Feuer, a San Francisco-based legal search firm.

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