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“The IP practice is very important to the new economy and we think there’s an explosive opportunity in Southern California,” said Michael Elkin, the vice-chairman of the firm. “We’re capturing an opportunity in a fertile market.”
The firm has already made a big move by snagging Perkins Coie partner Breton Bocchieri, an IP litigator known for winning the largest award in a cyber-piracy case � $117 million.
Bocchieri said he was impressed with Thelen Reid’s recent efforts to boost the practice in Los Angeles and its expanding worldwide client list.
“That’s exciting for a guy like me because I am in a curve in my career where things are expanding and I am bringing in a lot of business,” he said.
And there should be plenty more to bring in, Elkin said. He pointed to the new methods of delivering entertainment, such as video and music clips that are showing up on mobile phones.
“The consumer delivery model has changed, and people aren’t going to be happy going to a designated spot to watch entertainment,” he explained.
On the other hand, the firm does want to put more of its entertainment and technology resources into one designated spot. It has about 15 attorneys firmwide in the entertainment practice, but they’re mostly in New York. Thelen’s new initiative would beef up that practice in Los Angeles.
The result, Elkin said, will be a practice with more than just lawyers who know music, film and sports.
“While a lot of L.A. firms have those, they don’t have such concentrated information on technology and patents � we’re offering a dual capacity,” he said.
As part of the strategy, San Francisco partner Rauer Meyer will head south next month to lead the efforts from Los Angeles, cherry-picking laterals with entertainment contacts and marketing the firm’s technology and IP strengths to new clients.
Eventually, the firm expects to take its IP practice to China, where it’s awaiting licensing for a Shanghai office.
But back at home, they’ve got their work cut out for them when it comes to breaking into the tightly-knit entertainment industry, said Los Angeles-based recruiter Valerie Fontaine.
“Just about everything is competitive in L.A. and there’s a limited universe for that kind of work,” she said. “Firms want to get into new media, and some have moved to L.A. thinking they’d cash in on that.”
But Thelen is off to a good start: It’s smart to attract practitioners with a good business base, she said.
Meyer, the partner leading the efforts in Los Angeles, said he’s eager for the challenge and to return to Southern California, where he practiced for more than 20 years � including work at several westside entertainment firms.
“As soon as I get down there, we’re going to accelerate,” he said.