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Coudert Brothers’ San Francisco corporate group has found a new home at Winston & Strawn. Partner James Topinka and senior attorney Alisa Won joined Winston’s San Francisco office this month as a capital partner and an income partner respectively. Associates A. Anna Capelle, Christine Hofliger-Hourcade and Stephen Leanos also made the move. Coudert, which has struggled in recent years, announced in June it would shutter its San Francisco office in an attempt to consolidate. Topinka said his group was recruited by at least 20 different firms. “I got calls from Boston, New York and Chicago-based firms,” Topinka said. “Some were interested in starting a San Francisco office with us. This went on seven days a week for the better part of two months.” Topinka says he was most impressed with Winston & Strawn. “They are really nice,” he said. “They’re nice like the Coudert people are nice. They have a very competitive edge, but they are very congenial people.” Topinka says that unlike other firms, Winston & Strawn in San Francisco offered under one roof an array of practices to serve the needs of his clients, which include technology companies such as 3Com, Sierra Wireless and Theranos, specialty retailers and finance service companies. The office’s approximately 50 lawyers — double the number that Winston & Strawn opened with locally in 2003 — include commercial litigator Jeffrey Lederman, IP litigators Andrew Bridges, John Nishi and Mark Dickson, real estate partner Stephen Berkman, as well as a bankruptcy and refinancing group, which came to the firm through the firm’s merger with Murphy Sheneman Julian & Rogers, and Charles Birenbaum’s employment and labor group. For Winston & Strawn, the Coudert lawyers are the S.F. office’s first foray into corporate, with the exception of the bankruptcy and restructuring partners. “This allows us to do more general securities, emerging growth and general corporate work,” said Birenbaum, managing partner of the S.F. office. Winston, which reported profits per partner last year of $985,000, has a similar-size office in Los Angeles. Birenbaum said the firm has no plans for an office in Silicon Valley, though another office there or in Southern California would not be out of the question. Coudert Brothers, buffeted by defections and profit declines, closed its San Jose and Palo Alto, Calif., offices in recent years. The firm is now winding down its San Francisco operation, with the latest departures leaving just a couple of Coudert lawyers in Northern California. The firm’s revenue in 2004 put it at No. 83 in the Am Law rankings. Profits per partner were $410,000. Coudert had been pursuing a “parallel track strategy,” one partner told The American Lawyer magazine earlier this summer, attempting to both restructure its operations and cut offices and lawyers at the same time it sought to negotiate a potential merger with a major firm. Mark Curran, a Coudert spokesman, declined to say Thursday whether the firm is in active merger discussions.

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