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For a guy practicing bankruptcy law, Merle Meyers is curiously optimistic. Earlier this month, he split from San Francisco’s Goldberg, Stinnett, Meyers & Davis to open a three-lawyer bankruptcy boutique of his own. Though Meyers says his summer departure after 29 years had more to do with changes at his old firm � which has seen two other name partners exit in the past six months � it is undisputed that the bankruptcy practice has been in a continuing trough, which is forcing small firms to adjust. Named Goldberg, Stinnett, Davis & Linchey since Meyers’ departure, the San Francisco-based firm is trying to stabilize � it is down to three lawyers from 11 a year ago � with no plans to hire in the near-term, said partner Daniel Linchey. Further down the Peninsula, Palo Alto-based Brooks & Raub is dissolving this month, with one partner moving his practice into a home office and the other getting out of bankruptcy law altogether. But practitioners like Meyers are trying to find reasons to be hopeful. “It’s fortuitous that it is a quiet period to settle in before an upswing,” Meyers said. And consumer filings in California are skyrocketing: more than double the number in the first quarter of 2007 compared to the same time last year. “I think the general consensus in the insolvency community is that business filings and other commercial insolvency problems are likely to increase in the near future,” Meyers said. To match the anticipated boost, Meyers said he would like to add two or three full-time lawyers over the next year. “We are getting more calls from trustees, the cases are starting to increase,” Linchey echoed. “[But] it’s not a flood � I would say it’s a ramping up.” Meyers said the April retirement of Lawrence Goldberg, his mentor over the course of nearly 30 years, and the departure of Terrance Stinnett for an in-house job at the end of last year made it a good moment to start his own firm. His practice, which focuses on creditors and debtors in Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 bankruptcies, was “distinct and easy to separate,” he said.
Browsing the Boutiques

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