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Pushing forward in its campaign to be king of the hill in real estate law, Los Angeles-based Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker on June 9 acquired most of New York’s 103-year-old Battle Fowler. That venerable outfit, though eclipsed in recent years by bulked-up competitors in the Big Apple, still has one of the best-respected practices advising on real estate finance and development. Approximately 120 of Battle Fowler’s 160 lawyers will be joining the 49-year-old West Coast firm, all from its New York headquarters. The seven lawyers in the Los Angeles office have moved, variously, to Greenberg Traurig, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, and positions in industry. Paul Hastings now will have 730 lawyers in nine offices. Although the acquisition of Battle Fowler does not change the number of branches, Greg Nitzkowski, the chief of the firm’s real estate practice, said that the addition does crucially change the firm’s position in New York. “We think we need to be at the top of the market in each of the capital markets centers of the world,” he said. The deal gives Paul Hastings more lawyers on the East Coast — in Stamford, Conn., New York, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta –than in its West Coast offices — which include Orange County and San Francisco. The partners did not have an explicit goal to rack up more lawyers on the Atlantic side in order to overcome the firm’s reputation as merely a regional focus, said Nitzkowski. “That’s irrelevant to us,” he said. Others will notice its bi-coastal ballooning. San Francisco-based Thelen, Reid & Priest and Los Angeles’ Latham & Watkins are two other national real estate competitors who will now have to contend with Paul Hastings’ real estate bench strength gives the dirt-law practice more than 140 lawyers. Key real estate additions include Martin Edelman, who is said to bill beyond $30 million a year, and Peter Olsen, the 38-year-old partner who aided President and Hillary Clinton on their purchase of their house in Chappaqua, New York. Battle Fowler could have splintered in far more unsightly fashion than it did. Edelman and corporate partners Michael Rosella and Laurence Mittman led the move to Paul Hastings. One of Battle Fowler’s prominent real estate practitioners, Peter Fass, will not be joining Paul Hastings, Rosella confirmed. The firms have talked seriously since February. Teasingly close for many weeks, Paul Hastings on June 1 made offers to Battle Fowler’s associates and of counsel. Only 24 Battle Fowler lawyers will be joining Paul Hastings as partners. Pre-merger, the firm had more than 50 shareholders. All the Battle Fowler lawyers will be inserted into Paul Hastings’ e-mail system the week of June 12, said Nina DeCew, the firm’s head of business development. After that, the partners (and Edelman, officially of counsel) will be handed Blackberry wireless devices, an essential Paul Hastings totem, to link them to all their new colleagues, spread across so many new offices. Nitzkowski said that he and his partners continue to see Paul Hastings as an international work in progress. The firm has an office in London, and one in Tokyo. “We are very, very excited about the possibilities that Europe hold for us,” he said.

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