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LOS ANGELES-This city has morphed into a hotbed of recruiting in the past eight months as several midsized firms from the East Coast aggressively open offices. At least seven law firms have opened or significantly expanded offices in Los Angeles in recent months: Duane Morris; Dreier; Goodwin Procter; Hunton & Williams; McGuireWoods; Steptoe & Johnson LLP; and Venable. Several of the firms have lured large groups of lawyers from well-known local firms in a legal market rife with dissolutions and an unusually high number of defections. Most of the new offices are in the pricier real estate of Century City, where clients tend to be involved in new media, entertainment and technology. “The last six months, particularly on the west side of L.A., have been hot,” said Roger Warin, chairman of Steptoe & Johnson, which opened its second Los Angeles office in Century City in July 2006. “There’s more than the traditional amount of movement.” The Pellicano effect Regina Pisa, chairwoman and managing partner at Boston-based Goodwin Procter, which opened its first Los Angeles office last April, said the level of recruiting activity has exceeded her expectation. Goodwin Procter lured a group of real estate partners from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in Century City. “The west side seems to be more dynamic in terms of lawyers being willing to move,” said Warin, whose second Los Angeles office is downtown. He said the Century City office helps recruit lawyers who don’t want to commute to downtown. Earlier this month, Steptoe & Johnson of Washington hired the former head of the trademark group at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger of Los Angeles, where about a dozen lawyers bolted last year after rainmaker Bertram Fields admitted he is a subject in the criminal wiretapping investigation involving Hollywood sleuth Anthony Pellicano. Steptoe & Johnson also has lured lawyers from Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro, where partner Terry Christensen has been indicted in the Pellicano probe, and the former Alschuler Grossman Stein and Kahan. Santa Monica, Calif.-based Alschuler Grossman lost about 40 lawyers to New York-based Dreier after merger talks with Cooley Godward Kronish of Palo Alto, Calif., broke down last fall. “There’s been some unsettling developments at some firms out there,” said Marc Dreier, founder and managing partner of Dreier, which opened its Los Angeles affiliate, Dreier, Stein & Kahan, on Jan. 1. “My sense is that a lot of lawyers in L.A. are considering their options more than they have in the past.” New media business While the new firms focus on different practice groups, many have middle-market clients in the entertainment, new media and technology industries that are located in west Los Angeles. Washington-based Venable, for example, opened a Los Angeles office in Century City last July to accommodate clients in the Internet and data-privacy fields, said Karl Racine, managing partner of Venable. The firm acquired a five-attorney intellectual property group this month from Los Angeles-based Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif. In July 2006, Venable announced it acquired two local litigation firms: Gorry, Meyer & Rudd and Whitwell Jacoby Emhoff. McGuireWoods opened a small Los Angeles office in 2005 to accommodate its West Coast clients, primarily Verizon Wireless and Amgen Inc., said Richard Cullen, chairman of the Richmond, Va.-based firm. In April 2006, the firm acquired the 40-attorney firm Van Etten Suzumoto & Becket, based in Century City. This month, three more lawyers in the financial services group at Dallas-based Jenkens & Gilchrist joined the firm. Not everyone is coming to Century City. Hunton & Williams, based in Richmond, Va., opened a downtown office last September after acquiring litigators from Los Angeles boutique O’Donnell & Mortimer, which later dissolved. Philadelphia-based Duane Morris opened its first Los Angeles office downtown last year after merging with San Francisco-based Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft and acquiring an insurance coverage group from now-defunct Coudert Brothers.

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