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Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich got a toehold in the Washington, D.C., market Thursday by merging with the nine-lawyer telecommunications boutique of Blumenfeld & Cohen. The merger creates the seventh office of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Gray Cary and gives the firm instant expertise on the regulatory landscape in Washington, D.C. An 18-year-old firm, Blumenfeld is peopled by former government lawyers and specializes in maneuvering telecom companies through potential government pitfalls. The deal accomplishes two goals for Gray Cary: The firm has been shopping for a merger partner for some time, while at the same time considering an East Coast office, said J. Terence O’Malley, Gray Cary’s chairman. “We’ve been looking at the Washington market for over a year,” O’Malley said. “The tech community is increasingly subject to governmental policy.” A year ago, Gray Cary and the Los Angeles firm of Riordan & McKinzie were eyeing one another for a possible merger, but a deal failed to materialize. And even though the firm has closed a deal with Blumenfeld, Gray Cary is still open to new merger partners, O’Malley said. In the meantime, the Washington, D.C., firm gives Gray Cary nationwide reach. The firm’s 480 lawyers are largely concentrated in offices along the West Coast, with two offices in San Diego, two in the San Francisco Bay Area and one in Seattle. Gray Cary also has an outpost in Austin. The opening of the office comes on the heels of a similar move by Fenwick & West. Last year, Fenwick started bulking up on lawyers in its tiny Washington, D.C., office. Last November, Fenwick unveiled its strategy to increase the size of its ranks from 11 lawyers to 20. Gray Cary hopes to have 50 lawyers in its new Washington, D.C., office in two years. The team from Blumenfeld & Cohen brings about $5 million in annual revenues to Gray Cary. Last year, Gray Cary logged $225 million in revenue and profits-per-partner of $515,000, according to an annual survey of law firm finances conducted by The Recorder. Gray Cary’s ranks of lawyers expand Blumenfeld’s narrow focus by offering a broader range of services, from corporate to intellectual property, said Jeffrey Blumenfeld, who managed the small firm until the merger and is now a Gray Cary partner. “We’d been looking for a strategic arrangement for the past several months,” Blumenfeld said. “We wanted to find a law firm platform that had very strong representation in the technology community — and most importantly, could supply the kinds of practice groups our clients needed but that we didn’t supply.” All of the firm’s nine lawyers — four partners, two senior counsel and three associates — joined Gray Cary at their current position, Blumenfeld said. “We weren’t looking to cash out and go home,” Blumenfeld said. The merger enabled Gray Cary to create a separate practice group, the Communications and Network Infrastructure practice, which Blumenfeld and partner Peter Astiz, who is based in Palo Alto, will manage. “The size of the industry is humongous,” Astiz said. “And it is all dramatically impacted by the regulatory and public policy issues in Washington, D.C.” Astiz will remain in Palo Alto. Partner R. Allyn Taylor, a patent lawyer, will relocate from Gray Cary’s Palo Alto office to Washington, D.C.

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