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LOS ANGELES-Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, a Los Angeles-based firm with about 300 lawyers, has expanded its health care and entertainment practices in a recent effort to bolster its financial performance and establish a presence on both coasts. For more than 40 years, Manatt has been known as the California-based government firm with a client roster of high-profile actors and musicians such as Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. Now the firm is setting its sights on health care and corporate entertainment and media. Last year, the firm banked $196 million in revenue, up 21% from 2003. Profits per partner also topped $1 million for the first time in the firm’s history, according to a survey by The American Lawyer, an affiliate of The National Law Journal. “Our results reflect the fact that our adjustments over the years have improved our client base, our work, our financial results and made us a better business and a better firm,” said Paul Irving, managing partner and chief executive of the firm who plans to turn over the firm’s top job on Jan. 1, 2007, to long-time partner William Quicksilver. Co-founded by Thomas Phelps and Charles “Chuck” Manatt, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the firm has established offices in the capital cities of Washington; Albany, N.Y.; and Sacramento, Calif. In recent years, the firm opened offices in New York City; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Costa Mesa, Calif. Missing ‘critical mass’ But in early 2004, Manatt laid off a large group of international trade and telecommunications lawyers in Washington. Robert Belfort, co-chairman of Manatt’s health care industry practice group, said that those areas “weren’t building to critical mass and weren’t identified as key strategic areas for the firm.” Health care became a major focus in 2003, when the firm opened its first New York office with the acquisition of a 42-lawyer New York boutique called Kalkines, Arky, Zall & Bernstein. Health care “is a growing industry,” said Belfort, a former partner at Kalkines. “It’s highly regulated, with a tremendous need for legal services, and the nature of the work is such you don’t have to be a firm with 17 major offices in the world. Our size is quite good for serving most of that market.” Earlier this year, the firm hired Lori Evans, a former senior adviser to the national coordinator for health information technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to spearhead Manatt Health Solutions, which advises clients on regulatory issues. Most recently, Manatt added health care lawyers in Washington, where five partners are involved in the practice. “Our growth in that area has outstripped growth in the rest of the firm,” said Irving, noting that the firm added 50 health care lawyers in three years. Name partner L. Lee Phillips introduced entertainment to the firm when he joined in 1977. Since then, firm clients have included Bruce Springsteen and Robin Williams. But since 2002, several long-time lawyers left Manatt, including senior entertainment partner Jay Cooper. Cooper, now at Greenberg Traurig, declined to comment. Irving said that the firm is moving away from representing talent. “Our entertainment and media practice has moved from a talent practice to a practice that today is representing major institutions,” Irving said. “We’re proud of the relationships we retained, but we have moved our practice up.” In 2003, Manatt acquired 12-attorney entertainment litigation boutique Parcher, Hayes & Snyder to add to its newly opened New York office. Weeks earlier, a 10-lawyer advertising and media group, including name partner Linda Goldstein, joined from the former New York-based Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein & Wood. Peter Zeughauser, founder of legal consulting firm Zeughauser Group, which does not list Manatt as a client, noted that Manatt has “focused on high-rate practices in high-rate markets. They’ve carefully gone about building their core practice areas.”

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