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When Stuart Gordon co-founded Gordon & Rees in 1974, he hoped to grow his insurance defense firm to as many as 40 lawyers. As it turns out, those were modest goals. In the past five years, Gordon & Rees, based in San Francisco, has opened 10 offices outside California: Las Vegas; Houston; Phoenix; Dallas; Denver; Chicago; Seattle; New York; Uniondale, N.Y.; and Newark, N.J. With the recent growth, the firm now has more than 350 lawyers in 16 offices, which also include San Diego; Los Angeles; Sacramento and Newport Beach, Calif.; and Portland, Ore. Insurance defense isn’t the firm’s primary practice, either. Gordon & Rees has branched out into other areas, such as products liability, intellectual property, environmental law, real estate and labor and employment. “I would like to see us now have a national footprint that’s really solid,” said Gordon. “I would like to see it over 500 lawyers.” Outside California Gordon and Donald Rees co-founded Gordon & Rees after both had worked at a small insurance defense firm. Growing to more than 20 lawyers “seemed huge to us at the time,” Gordon said. Early on, the firm represented insurance companies, such as the Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. and California Casualty Group, primarily in automobile accident and products liability cases. In its first two decades, the firm expanded to San Diego, Los Angeles and Newport Beach in Orange County, Calif. By the late 1990s, Gordon said he was “engulfed” in representing Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. in national class actions involving fen-phen, so he turned over leadership of the firm to Michael Lucey, an employment partner in San Francisco. Under Lucey, who was the firm’s managing partner until 2006, the firm began to expand nationally. Dion Cominos, now the managing partner, said the next goal is to open an office in the Southeastern United States, possibly in Florida or Atlanta. “The idea is to have our core practice areas represented in all our major markets so our clients can turn to us in any of those areas,” he said. The rapid growth, however, has come with some defections. In October, four senior partners in the San Diego office left to start their own firm, Andrews Lagasse Branch & Bell. Founding partner Jonathan Andrews declined to comment beyond the firm’s press release, which stated a desire to provide legal services “consistent with smaller law offices.” But having that national reach is helpful to clients, said Mark Goldzweig, director and assistant general counsel at Kia Motors America Inc. in Irvine, Calif. He said Gordon & Rees has represented Kia in products liability cases and class actions for the past five years. Gordon & Rees is now representing Kia Motors in cases in New Jersey, Oregon and Texas. Last year, Gordon & Rees generated $143 million in revenues, up 12.6% from 2006, Cominos said. He attributed that growth to several victories in areas outside of insurance defense, such as obtaining several employment law verdicts and defeating numerous class certification motions. One notable case involved the Huntington Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau in Huntington Beach, Calif., which, in seeking to protect its recent trademarks over the name “Surf City USA,” was sued by two beachwear shops in Santa Cruz, Calif., over the naming rights. The high-profile case settled earlier this year. “They did a very good job of bouncing the insurer’s desire to keep the costs at a minimum and, at the same time, making sure we were provided with an adequate defense,” said Doug Traub, president and chief executive of the Huntington Beach bureau.

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