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Reed Smith has poached two law firm leaders for its San Francisco office. Michael McCabe, the managing partner of Preston Gates & Ellis’ San Francisco office, and Robert M. Smith of Dewey Ballantine’s East Palo Alto, Calif., office, now work for Reed Smith, the firm announced on Tuesday. “Both Mike and Bob are strategic thinkers who played leadership roles at their respective firms,” said San Francisco Managing Partner David Thompson. McCabe’s move reunites him with Thompson. The two used to work together at Jackson, Tufts, Cole & Black, the one-time home of several attorneys now at Reed Smith. McCabe, who headed up Preston Gates’ S.F. office for four years, said that he was eager to join a firm with a large California presence. That makes a difference when a prospective client holds a beauty contest, said the commercial litigator. “Preston Gates is still working to grow a California presence,” McCabe said, noting that his former firm has 32 attorneys in San Francisco and 20 in Orange County. Reed Smith has more than 120 lawyers in the Bay Area alone. Reed Smith impressed Robert Smith when the securities litigator sat across the table during a public offering. The firm will give his practice a greater platform, Smith said. “It can be summed up in one word: opportunity,” he said. Smith has nearly 25 years of experience handling securities, mergers and acquisitions and capital market transactions. He had been at Dewey Ballantine since 1986. He served as managing partner of its Los Angeles office and joined the firm’s management committee. Later, he helped establish Dewey Ballantine’s Menlo Park outpost. That office was shuttered in 2002 and moved to East Palo Alto. Jeannine Yoo Sano heads the office there. She says that Smith’s decision to leave was a personal one — he lives in San Francisco and wanted a shorter commute. McCabe and Smith’s former firms say that they have plans to grow. Preston Gates plans to boost its San Francisco office soon, said Lawrence Low, who became the office’s managing partner in July. Dewey Ballantine expects eventually to make its East Palo Alto outpost a full-service office, said Yoo Sano.

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