Los Angeles, a hotbed of law firm lateral hiring so far in 2018, saw four more firms enter the fray within the past week.
Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg brought on Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart labor and employment partners Dawn Collins and Tae Kim, while a pair of Venable partners decamped for DLA Piper and Quinn Emanuel. Dechert, meanwhile, hired Hughes Hubbard & Reed class action co-chair partner David Stern for its litigation department in Los Angeles.
“There is a lot of litigation on the West Coast in general, and in Los Angeles,” said Stern, who previously served as co-chair of Hughes Hubbard’s class action practice. “[Dechert] has a great platform for the growing litigation opportunities in the area.”
Stern, who focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation, has spent more than 20 years as a lawyer in Los Angeles. At Hughes Hubbard, he gained considerable first chair trial experience representing blue-chip clients in class action, intellectual property and media and entertainment cases. Stern was previously a partner at Winston & Strawn in Los Angeles before joining Hughes Hubbard in 2011.
Dechert, which opened its Los Angeles office that same year, currently focuses its local outpost on high-stakes corporate, financial and litigation matters. Stern said he intends to help Dechert expand beyond the nine lawyers—five partners and four associates—it currently has in the city.
Barnes & Thornburg, whose own Los Angeles office also opened in 2011, has also been strategically expanding in Southern California.
Collins and Kim, the two new additions to the firm, were seasoned employment litigators at Ogletree Deakins. Both have many years of experience defending corporations and management in employment law matters in California, including key wage-and-hour disputes and against discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims.
“California employment laws are very complex, they are very technical and employers need strong strategic partners to help them navigate the complexity of those employment laws,” said Kim about her move to Barnes & Thornburg. “So, for that reason, we are seeing different firms targeting and growing their bench in California.”
Collins, who moved with Kim from Ogletree Deakins, which has been hit with a pair of employments suits by former partners so far this year, added that expanding in Southern California makes sense these days for many out-of-town firms.
“For Tae and I, it presents a great opportunity to join a firm that has a nationally ranked and recognized labor and employment practice that is growing,” Collins said. “We are delighted to be a part of that growth in a market that presents an abundance of opportunities.”
Barnes & Thornburg now has about 50 lawyers in Los Angeles, with five partners specializing in labor and employment work, including Collins and Kim. The firm also added a new office last month in San Diego by bringing on former Cooley partner Troy Zander.
“The additions we’ve made in Southern California are not only integral to the growth of our firm, but they are also prospering on our platform and, most importantly, are finding new ways to efficiently solve client problems,” said a statement from David Allen, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg’s Los Angeles office.
DLA Piper and Quinn Emanuel, two growing global legal giants, also separately recruited former Venable partners Tamany Bentz and Jennifer Nassiri, respectively. Nassiri, a bankruptcy litigation expert, heads to Quinn Emanuel as of counsel in the firm’s corporate restructuring and bankruptcy practice, while Bentz is now an IP and technology partner at DLA Piper, a firm that has been busy building out its Los Angeles office in recent months.
“The reverberation that the recent expansion of DLA Piper in Los Angeles has caused in the L.A. legal market presents a unique and timely opportunity to grow my intellectual property practice and share my clients with some of the best IP lawyers in the country and the world,” said Bentz in a statement about her new firm, which last summer absorbed 60-lawyer Los Angeles boutique Liner. “It was an opportunity I did not want to pass up.”
Bentz focuses her on IP litigation, including patent, trade secrets, trademark and copyright cases. She spent the past 13 years at Venable, which Nassiri joined as of counsel in 2010 after more than a half-dozen years as an associate at DLA Piper.