David Sergenian and John Pierce, of Pierce Sergenian. (handout)
Pierce Sergenian, a Los Angeles-based litigation boutique formed in January by two former Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan lawyers, is expanding with a pair of litigators from the latter and Kirkland & Ellis.
Darin Beffa, who joined Kirkland a decade ago, spending nearly the past five years as a partner, has joined Pierce Sergenian along with Quinn Emanuel of counsel Joseph Ashby. The two new hires—Ashby will be of counsel at the firm and Beffa a partner—will bring bring Pierce Sergenian’s head count to seven.
Beffa, who in 2014 was part of a team of Kirkland lawyers representing General Motors Co. in class action litigation over its vehicles’ allegedly faulty ignition switches, said he had been looking to move to a smaller firm that would afford him a little more flexibility for his practice. Pierce Sergenian, which has offices in downtown Los Angeles and nearby Santa Monica, fit the bill.
“The two of them having grown up at Quinn Emanuel and me having grown up at Kirkland, the litigation mindset really was in line with each other,” Beffa said. “I never really thought that I would end up some place that’s been around for a couple of months, but it turned out that’s a really exciting place to be.”
Though Pierce and Sergenian both spent time at other firms between leaving Quinn Emanuel and striking out on their own—Sergenian in 2013 at Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro and Pierce in 2014 at Latham & Watkins and, albeit briefly, at K&L Gates in 2016—the two partners said when they started Pierce Sergenian that they planned to model the new firm on the one where they met, from a pursuit of contingency fee arrangements to an embrace of wearing jeans in the office. That caught the attention of Ashby, who spent nearly nine years at Quinn Emanuel.
“I know John and David from their time at [the firm] and have an understanding of their skill and personalities as trial lawyers,” said Ashby, whose clients have included Epson America Inc., Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors America Inc., Nestlé SA and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. “When I saw they were launching a firm, I was intrigued to see what they had in mind.”
Beffa and Ashby are the first nonassociate hires at Pierce Sergenian, which in addition to its namesakes opened earlier this year with three new law school graduates brought on as associates.
“Darin and Joseph are absolutely first-rate trial lawyers,” Pierce said in a prepared statement. “They have lived and breathed bet-the-company litigation at two of the world’s best law firms.”
When Pierce Sergenian launched, Pierce said the firm would attract younger lawyers by replacing internal email with more socially collaborative tools, such as the group chat service Slack. Last month the firm touted its new cutting edge website. Based on Beffa’s experience in his first few days on the job, Pierce Sergenian’s technology push is going well, he said.
“My inbox is far less cluttered than in my experience, and there is really this vibrant discussion that’s going on [with] these online tools,” Beffa said. “We’re trying to think a little outside the box.”