Chicago-based Vedder Price said Wednesday it is entering the California market with a new office in San Francisco, the firm’s fifth office overall.

Leading Vedder Price’s San Francisco office are three new shareholders: former Bingham & McCutchen finance and transactions partner Bradley Crawford; Brendan Dolan, who joins from Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman’s labor and employment group; and former Drinker Biddle & Reath labor and employment partner Heather Sager. (A Vedder Price spokesman says the firm enlisted recruiting firm Watanabe Nason for the hiring process.)

Vedder Price President Michael Nemeroff said his firm has been weighing a move to California for almost four years and that the state was one of two places considered for the firm’s last office opening, in 2011. (London was ulimately chosen instead.) Once attention turned to The Golden State, Nemeroff says, the decision to launch in San Francisco "was mostly due to the fact that’s where we found the people that we thought were the best fit for us." Specifically, he says, the new arrivals’ expertise will mesh well with two of Vedder Price’s major practices — corporate and labor — while expanding the firm’s reach: "It’s a good combination, because we can extend where we service a bunch of clients and also offer those same services to [the incoming shareholder's] clients in areas where we’re very well known and very proficient to begin with."

Vedder Price ranked No. 166 on Recorder sibling publication The American Lawyer‘s 2012 Am Law 200 rankings based on its financial performance in 2011, the most recent year for which complete data is available. According to The American Lawyer‘s preliminary reporting on law firms’ 2012 finances, the firm’s gross revenues rose 9.9 percent last year, to $199 million, its profits per partner jumped 13.8 percent, to $825,000, and its revenue per lawyer rose 6.7 percent, to $800,000.

The San Francisco outpost is likely to hire additional lateral shareholders and associates in the coming weeks, according to Nemeroff, who adds that attorneys from other Vedder Price offices could also be transferred to the new office. And while the firm has no imminent plans to open other offices, Nemeroff says he can imagine Vedder Price expanding into Southern California and overseas in the future.

Tom Huddleston Jr. is a reporter with The Am Law Daily, a Recorder affiliate.