O'Malley Miller
O’Malley Miller ()

One of the first lawyers at Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis has returned to the Southern California firm after more than two decades away.

O’Malley Miller, the eighth attorney in the door at Allen Matkins when it was formed in 1977, most recently served as head of the real estate practice at Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles. He re-joins Allen Matkins as a partner.

“It just struck me as a sensible and opportunistic milestone,” Miller said of returning to his old stomping grounds. “[Allen Matkins] has a well-earned reputation as one of the strongest real estate firms in the country, and certainly on the West Coast.”

Miller’s clients at Munger Tolles included Los Angeles-based private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management LP and real estate firms Hines Interests Limited Partnership and Tishman Speyer Properties LP. All three are also Allen Matkins clients. Miller said all of his clients would benefit from Allen Matkins’ lawyers’ wide-ranging real estate expertise, which includes specialties in construction law, joint ventures, financing and land use.

Some of those lawyers are people Miller recruited himself during his years as Allen Matkins’ hiring partner in the early 1990s. The opportunity to build a practice largely from scratch drew him away to Munger Tolles in 1992.

“It was a good move for me at the time,” Miller said. “Without any question Munger Tolles is one of the premier law firms in the [U.S.], and the last time they’d had a real estate lawyer there was when Charlie Munger was practicing.”

Charles Munger, a co-founding partner of the firm, is now the billionaire vice chairman of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. At Munger Tolles, Miller helped handle the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, from negotiating details of the music center’s lease to hiring a German company that manufactured one of the most valuable organs in the world for the venue.

But Miller also stayed on good terms with Allen Matkins’ founding partners Fred Allen, Michael Matkins, Brian Leck, John Gamble and Richard Mallory. Returning to the firm “has felt like coming home,” Miller said.

“It’s great to have O’Malley back where he belongs,” Matkins said in a statement prepared by the firm. “He’s a terrific lawyer and a wonderful human being. He provides our superb clients with even more expertise and depth, and at the same time, he makes our own remarkable culture that much better.”

Allen Matkins added K&L Gates tax partner Frank Dworak late last year for its office in Irvine, California, where longtime Allen Matkins employment litigation partner Stephen Kepler recently left the firm to form his own shop in nearby Laguna Niguel.

As for Munger Tolles, the firm saw gross revenue, profits per partner and overall head count decline in 2016, according to The Recorder. The firm made a major move last year by opening an office in Washington, D.C., after hiring former U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. In March, Munger Tolles hired Ginger Anders, a colleague of Verrilli at Jenner & Block and the solicitor general’s office, to bolster its outpost in the nation’s capital.

The Recorder reported in February on Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s hire of Munger Tolles corporate and securities partner Katherine Ku in Los Angeles. Mark Epstein, a litigation partner with the firm in the same city, left earlier this year after being appointed as a judge for the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Copyright The Recorder. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.