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Three years ago, Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson tried opening a Southern California office but struggled to find the right mix of attorneys. Now, as the Oakland firm attempts its second foray into Los Angeles, senior partners hope they’ve found the ingredients to make it last. “We’ve been looking forward to and thinking about this for a number of years,” said Steven Meyers, who launched the firm in 1986 when the city of San Leandro was its primary client. Today, Meyers, Nave represents more than 135 towns and cities throughout California, plus 20 county governments, 50 redevelopment agencies and scores of other public entities, including the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, Los Angeles International Airport and the Port of Los Angeles. Meyers, Nave also acts as city attorney for 30 local governments, more than any other firm in the state. When Meyers, Nave goes out to cultivate new business, it tells clients they are signing on with an entire law firm, not just one or a few individual attorneys. “Our law firm is defined not so much by the area of law that we practice but by the clients that we have,” Meyers said. The attorneys in the L.A. office will be new hires, replacing attorneys from Northern California offices who’ve been serving the Southern California client base since the office opened on March 1. Meyers said he will continue commuting from Oakland to the L.A. office for at least a year. The firm’s most recent lateral hire is John Harris, chairman of the environmental law, oil and gas department at Richards, Watson & Gershon. Harris said he’s worked with a Meyers, Nave attorney who sits on the California Redevelopment Association’s Brownfields Committee, which led the firm to approach him about joining the new office. “Meyers, Nave’s reputation is statewide,” said Harris, a 13-year veteran at Richards, Watson. “It just seemed like a unique and very interesting opportunity.” After Meyers, Nave folded its first attempt to launch an L.A. office, the firm turned its attention to Sacramento, where it now has 10 attorneys and plans a move to a larger office in July. Meyers said the experience in the state capitol, plus the discovery in L.A. of people like Harris, will make the difference this time around. “We want to bring in people who will serve all of our clients, not just clients in Southern California,” Meyers said. When contacted about Meyers, Nave’s expansion to Los Angeles, William Rudell, a senior partner at Richards, Watson, said there’s room for more than two public agency law firms in Southern California. Of Harris’ departure, Rudell said there’s always competition for talent in the legal profession. But it’s too early to say what else the addition to the L.A. market means for the other firms representing public agencies. “We haven’t had an opportunity to assess the impact they would have, if any, down here,” Rudell said.

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