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LOS ANGELES � Some lawyers have more fashion sense than others. That’s why several firms in Los Angeles have grown or unveiled practice groups spotlighting the textile, apparel and fashion industries. This month, Loeb & Loeb revealed its new fashion and luxury brands industry group. In April, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, which announced its fashion apparel team about a year ago, lured top fashion designer lawyer Ted Max from Boston-based Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo to its New York office. Sheppard Mullin also began publishing a blog that covers legal aspects and legislation in the fashion world. While fashion law in Los Angeles isn’t an original, the new groups hail from midsized firms rather than the traditional boutiques that have dominated the field. “Fashion and apparel has kind of exploded across all spectrums on its own, and for professional service providers, because so much money has come into the industry from private equity, and because the larger apparel conglomerates are making acquisitions,” said James Williams, chairman of Loeb & Loeb’s fashion and luxury brands industry group. “It’s a changed industry.” More money The fashion trend comes amid a rise in copyright infringement suits over textile designs and corporate deals in the industry, said Jeffrey Kapor, chairman of the apparel industry practice group at Los Angeles-based Buchalter Nemer. “We’re seeing a lot more money available, rather than the traditional strategic buyers,” said Kapor, whose firm has more than doubled its fashion practice in nine years. “More equity firms are putting money into this business.” Williams, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Loeb & Loeb, joined in April from the Beverly Hills, Calif., office of boutique entertainment firm Davis, Shapiro, Lewit & Hayes, where he was chairman of the fashion industry group. He said he joined Loeb & Loeb because his clients needed expertise in areas other than entertainment. “Loeb is a much broader-based entertainment practice, and they really have the skill sets and functional groups to supplement it,” he said. The fashion and luxury brand industry group includes 10 attorneys in four different practice groups: intellectual property, litigation, advertising and corporate, he said. Williams said the firm plans to expand the practice as it picks up. Most of the firm’s clients are designers and manufacturers, such as Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., 7 For All Mankind LLC and Vans Inc. Sheppard launched its fashion apparel team last year. “Part of it is a marketing perspective,” admitted Bob Darwell, chairman of the fashion apparel team and the firm’s transactional entertainment, media and communications practice group. But targeting fashion clients sends “a message that we’re not just dabbling in your industry. We’re paying attention to it from every aspect.” The fashion apparel team includes 20 lawyers from corporate, labor and employment, real estate and tax, but Darwell said he expects the group to expand internationally. Max, who recently joined the firm with Charles LeGrand, now special counsel, said the ability to work with lawyers in other practice groups is one reason he moved to Sheppard Mullin. “The ability for growth is much greater at Sheppard Mullin because of the supporting cast of people,” said Max, who represents Louis Vuitton Malletier. Other firm clients include Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and The Gap Inc.

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