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William Stern, the man who wrote the book on 17200, has left the litigation boutique where he worked for 24 years to join Morrison & Foerster. Stern, a litigator specializing in defending consumer class actions with a focus on financial institutions, formerly practiced at 70-lawyer Severson & Werson. A principal author of Prop 64, Stern also wrote The Rutter Group’s treatise on California’s unfair competition law. Stern started in MoFo’s San Francisco office Wednesday as a partner in the financial services and consumer and class action litigation groups. Lori Schechter, chair of MoFo’s litigation department, said MoFo attorneys have worked alongside Stern on cases and were happy to have him on board. “The law has been evolving significantly in the past few years and will [change] more,” she said, “and he has been in the thick of it.” Mark Kenney, president and managing director at Severson, expressed regret at Stern’s departure. “I have been told by Will he is going to MoFo to build a presence in this consumer class action field for which Severson & Werson is so known.” The firm is also known, said Kenney, for the long tenure of its senior attorneys. “Many of us have been here 25 years and longer. We are close-knit and we take good care of each other, so it is never a happy thing to see a good friend go.” Stern said he began talking with MoFo before the November election. He and the firm already share many of the same banking clients. Stern hopes that MoFo’s larger platform and more diverse practice groups will allow him to branch out to other industries. “Lots of theories in consumer class action have been litigated and tested first in the banking area,” said Stern. “The plaintiff attorneys are applying those theories now to other industries than banking.” He cited consumer products, IP and utilities as some of the newly targeted industries. Stern said that Prop 64′s passage is starting to weed out “frivolous cases.” As a result, he expects that “businesses sued in class actions will face greater challenges.” Others agreed that it’s a busy and fast-moving time for Stern’s line of work. “In the next year or two, there will be a lot of activity shaking out the details of Prop 64,” said Lisa Perrochet, an appellate lawyer with Horvitz & Levy. “[After that], I don’t think that means the cases won’t happen anymore. It just means it will proceed like it [does] in other states with a public entity or someone jumping through class action hoops.” In addition to authoring Prop 64, Stern argued a seminal case, Kraus v. Trinity Management Services Inc., to the California Supreme Court and testified before the California Legislature.

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