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LOS ANGELES � At a time when white-collar criminal lawyers are scattering to big firms, one Los Angeles boutique is accumulating big clients. In recent months, Tom Brown, who co-founded Brown & White two years ago with fellow former federal prosecutor Kenneth White, was retained as local counsel for Melvyn Weiss, senior partner at Milberg Weiss who faces federal conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in a kickback case. The firm also represents a former financial commentator in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) case that went to trial this month, as well as several physician witnesses in a criminal investigation of the University of California, Irvine Medical Center’s liver transplant program. “We’ve had our doors open for 27 months, and we’ve grown to over 20 personnel, 10 lawyers, two paralegals and a wonderful support staff,” Brown said. “It shows no sign of stopping.” The victories place Brown one step further from a high-profile fees dispute that ended shortly before he and White decamped from Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton of Los Angeles. Weiss retained Brown after being indicted in September 2007 for allegedly paying kickbacks to named plaintiffs in securities class actions. As local counsel, Brown handles pretrial, bond, travel and discovery issues. “Tom is helping to be the liaison with the U.S. attorney’s office,” said Bryan Daly, local counsel for Milberg Weiss, which is also a defendant. Daly, a partner at Chicago-based Mayer Brown, recommended Brown to Weiss’ lead counsel, Benjamin Brafman of Brafman & Associates in New York. “For people out of town, like Ben, that liaison coordination is vital when trying a case outside your home turf,” he said. Brafman agreed, noting Brown & White’s lawyers are “very familiar with the criminal process in L.A.” Last month, a federal judge rejected a request brought by Weiss to move the case to New York, where he works. Both Brown and White were federal prosecutors in Los Angeles during the 1990s. From there, Brown joined Sheppard Mullin, where he was chairman of the firm’s white-collar practice group. White joined the firm later. In 2005, they formed Brown & White. “The plan was that we wanted to set up a downtown white-collar criminal and business litigation boutique, which would be an alternative to some of the large firms or even medium firms,” Brown said. George Newhouse, also a former federal prosecutor, joined Brown & White last year from Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner (then Thelen, Reid & Priest). Earlier this month, Newhouse went to trial against the SEC for Courtney D. Smith, a former financial commentator on cable television business channel CNBC who is accused of illegally pumping up the stock of a local company. Newhouse obtained an acquittal in a related criminal case against Smith two years ago. In founding their firm, Brown and White move beyond the shadow of an ugly fees dispute that occurred at Sheppard Mullin. Brown represented the former treasurer of the Southern California city of South Gate, Albert Robles, who was accused of making death threats while under investigation for public corruption. A judge dismissed the case. In 2005, a Los Angeles judge blasted Sheppard Mullin for charging South Gate fees that were “more than excessive and unreasonable, transcending beyond the stratosphere into deep outer space.” In 2005, Sheppard Mullin agreed to pay $2 million to settle the fees dispute. Brown declined to comment.

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