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If seeing the words L.A. and law in the same sentence conjures up images of Daryl Gates cracking skulls or Harry Hamlin working his Cro-Magnon charms on what’s-her-name from “The Partridge Family,” you haven’t been paying attention. These days, Los Angeles law firms are on the cutting edge of legal issues from intellectual property to Internet law. Shops come in all shapes and sizes here — specialty boutiques and megafirms coexist in a thriving legal market supported by the world’s 11th-largest economy. In addition to being home to the entertainment biz (most firms do at least some work related to the Industry), Los Angeles County boasts thriving banking, health care, tourism, and high-tech sectors. And of course, there’s no lack of government jobs in a county whose bureaucracy is larger than that of many small countries. Worried about a recession? California is the place you ought to be (thanks, Jed). The Golden State led the country out of the early ’90s slump, and L.A.’s population and economy have boomed since. HOT JOBS Every year, hordes of starry-eyed law grads migrate west in hopes of making it big in entertainment practice. But in a city of 3.8 million people, career choices are virtually unlimited. L.A. is home to big dogs like Latham & Watkins, which ranks high among the nation’s most profitable firms, and O’Melveny & Myers, where the world’s least sexy man, former secretary of state Warren Christopher, is senior partner. And you can’t beat the local chapter of Skadden Arps for associate salaries ($140,000 for first-years). If a big firm isn’t your cup of java, L.A. has high-powered midsize shops, like Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan, a full-service outfit with litigators so intense it’s been called “the last place in the world the Sparkletts water guy wants to deliver late to.” Bloom, Hergott, Diemer & Cook handles deals for big names in film and television, and the small Beverly Hills boutique Pierce Gorman devotes much of its time to independent films. Want to be a cybercop? The California Department of Corporations’ Internet Compliance and Enforcement Team patrols the Web for securities fraud. Or you can play crime-buster as a deputy D.A. for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the nation’s largest local prosecutorial outfit. HOT BARS With its velvet ropes and Sirius-level star power, Skybar, in the Mondrian Hotel, is the most “Hollywood” way to spend an evening. If you make the cut and get past the doorman, you’re in for panoramic views — of city and silicone. For offbeat entertainment, squeeze into Largo and catch musician Jon Brion, who, in addition to producing albums for Fiona Apple and playing alongside the Wallflowers, can sound like the Beatles performing the theme from “The Jeffersons.” Giant, a weekly music event at the Park Plaza hotel, is flat-out the coolest place to dance. For details, see giantclub.com. HOT HOODS Most big firms and courts are downtown, but nobody lives in this concrete jungle. Try nearby Los Feliz or Silver Lake — both are ultrahip but still fresh enough to contain a few real estate bargains. The other main legal centers, Century City and Beverly Hills, are easily accessible from beachy Santa Monica and eclectic West Hollywood. Do you miss classes and keg parties? Try centrally located Westwood, the home of UCLA. When you make it big, head for Beverly Hills. HOT RESTAURANTS The owners of Campanile have turned Charlie Chaplin’s former office building into L.A.’s favorite place for Mediterranean fare (try the rosemary-charred baby lamb). Lawyers and agents power-lunch with their famous clients at the Ivy, just a short drive from law offices on the west side. Late night at the office? Stop at Pink’s on the way home and grab a world-class chili dog. HOT TICKETS Craving some culture? See the breathtaking Getty Center museum — the long wait for tickets has finally subsided, so you can now get a peek inside instead of staring up at it from the traffic jam on the 405. Or catch a concert at the Hollywood Bowl — the annual evening of motion picture themes by Academy Award-winning composer John Williams is a local kitsch favorite. If you get the chance, accept a partner’s invitation to hit the links at the ultra-exclusive Riviera country club. Fear not, O.J.’s no longer a member. HOT SHOPPING Unless you’re shopping for a mink, forget geriatric Rodeo Drive. Robertson Boulevard is where locals go for high-end fashion — try agnes b. for original men’s and women’s clothes worthy of any law firm gala or Oscars after-party. The funky shops on Melrose Avenue are much more affordable, but be aware that many of the getups you’ll find there could get you cited for contempt. No L.A. shopping trip is complete without a stop at Fred Segal, a cluster of boutiques where Madonna and Julia Roberts reportedly grab everything from clothes to cosmetics. This article originally appeared in the September 2001 issue ofJD Jungle.

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