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After a year of bleeding partners and searching for a large mate, Los Angeles’ Troop Steuber Pasich Reddick & Tobey will close on Jan. 1. Nearly half of Troop’s 120 lawyers will join Dallas-based Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, in what is technically a firm merger. Akin Gump, which ranked 19th on Recorder- and law.com-affiliate The American Lawyer‘s 1999 survey of top-grossing law firms, picked through Troop’s lawyer roster to select 61 corporate, entertainment and high-tech lawyers that will bring its L.A. office up to 136 lawyers. Worldwide, Akin Gump will have 1,050 lawyers. Troop’s 30-lawyer national insurance recovery group is searching for a different national firm to merge with and is also considering going solo. The group is being courted by Washington, D.C.-based Howrey Simon Arnold & White, according to Thomas Nolan, managing partner of Howrey Simon’s California offices. Nolan said Troop’s group is also in talks with Los Angeles-based Latham & Watkins and Cleveland-based Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. The remaining 30 Troop lawyers — who represent a cross-section of practice groups — are left to fend for themselves. “We did not go through and make an assessment about the quality of each lawyer,” said David Allen, managing partner of Akin Gump’s L.A. office. “What we did do is try to stay focused on what our strategic plan was.” Still, Troop co-managing partner Kirk Pasich chose to characterize Troop’s closure as a straight merger: “The agreement is a merger agreement, it’s not ‘Troop shutting its doors and lawyers spreading to the wind,’ ” he said. He added that the firm began looking for a merger partner over the last year as it became clear that it would need a greater national and global presence to stay competitive. During the last year, Troop has lost about 10 partners and numerous associates. “Troop has been one of the most successful firms in the area, but at the end of the day it was a regional firm,” Pasich said. “As high-tech spread out, it became more important to have a national platform.” Pasich said Troop’s insurance recovery and complex business litigation group — the firm’s largest practice group, which pulls in about $18 million each year — would have had too many client conflicts with Akin Gump. He said Troop’s group is holding out for a merger with a firm that that doesn’t represent insurance companies. “They are a very high-profile trial practice group, and most of the major litigation firms in the country have their eye on them,” Nolan of Howrey Simon said. The merger provides an additional boost to Akin Gump, which has gone from seven to 75 lawyers in Los Angeles since setting up offices in 1997. Allen said the largest practice areas in L.A. are its litigation, corporate and real estate groups. One Los Angeles-area lawyer said the addition of 60 Troop lawyers will help Akin Gump cast a more noticeable shadow in L.A. “They have not had a particularly strong presence here, though I know firsthand that they’ve been looking to build their office,” said James Slaby Jr., a Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton corporate securities partner. “One of the problems out-of-state firms have is no one knows who they are when they get here. Picking up a firm like Troop, which had a strong presence here, will certainly enhance their presence in the legal community.”

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