Ronald Valenzuela and Nancy Sher Cohen
Ronald Valenzuela and Nancy Sher Cohen ()

Lathrop Gage is gearing up to rebuild its Los Angeles office with the hire this week of Nancy Sher Cohen, a former partner at Proskauer Rose who co-led that firm’s insurance recovery and counseling group.

At Lathrop Gage, Cohen will lead the firm’s policyholder and insurance coverage practice, which she said draws from about 50 attorneys at the roughly 265-lawyer firm. Cohen will also be managing partner of the Los Angeles office, which had gone nearly dormant in April when a six-lawyer group led by former local managing partner Beth Schroeder left Lathrop Gage for Raines Feldman, a roughly 45-lawyer firm with offices in Los Angeles and nearby Irvine, California.

Proskauer associate Ronald Valenzuela has joined Cohen at Lathrop Gage, where he is now a partner. He also represents policyholders in disputes with insurance companies. Cohen is a known name in the policyholder practice, having represented the mortgage lender for New York’s World Trade Center in insurance claim cases stemming from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In another high-profile matter, she advised on insurance issues related to Los Angeles’ successful bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, who keeps a second house in Lathrop Gage’s hometown, as well as season tickets to the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs, Cohen said she was drawn to her new firm for the chance to build an office, join an established policyholder practice and experience something of a homecoming.

Cohen said she has meetings with potential hires set for next week. She has experience growing an office. At Heller Ehrman, Cohen served as a longtime managing partner of a nearly 90-lawyer office in Los Angeles before the firm dissolved in late 2008.

“I know what it’s like to build an office and I love the challenge of doing that,” Cohen said Friday. “We are going to be growing this office, and we’re going to be doing it in a synergistic way and to grow it in areas where the firm is already very strong so we can have multiple offices working together to support national clients all over the country.”

Lathrop Gage, which became the latest large firm to ditch an ampersand this year by rebranding itself in June, claims that its policy-side insurance practice will have recovered more than $2 billion from insurance providers after adding Cohen and Valenzuela to its partnership ranks. The firm’s insurance group also represents individuals who were victims of wrongful convictions, pursuing claims against municipalities, law enforcement and their insurers.

“I am proud of the policyholder practice that we have grown organically, and Nancy’s addition catapults our policyholder capabilities and profile to a new level,” said a statement by Lathrop Gage’s Mark Bluhm, who took over as leader of the firm in 2013.

As Lathrop Gage begins to rebuild its Los Angeles office, the firm has also been hiring in Chicago following defections earlier in the year that included former Windy City managing partner Sue Charles, who left in July for Troutman Sanders along with business and environmental litigation partners Trent Cornell and Russell Eggert.

In July, Lathrop Gage appointed bankruptcy partner Brian Minier as partner-in-charge of the Chicago office, where the firm has since announced the hire of three more intellectual property lawyers: Partners Tom Papadopoulos and Vladimir Arezina have come aboard from Neal, Gerber Eisenberg and counsel Julie Nichols Matthews joined from Parker Ibrahim & Berg.