San Diego skyline

Barnes & Thornburg, which opened an office in Los Angeles six years ago last week, has set up its second office in California.

Troy Zander, who left Cooley to join Barnes & Thornburg on Feb. 17, now serves as partner-in-charge of the firm’s new outpost in San Diego. The office, which has secured temporary space in downtown San Diego, follows the firm’s recruitment of a Los Angeles-based team of lawyers from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in 2011.

“At this stage of my career, it felt like the right place and time to expand my practice while providing a broad range of services to my clients through Barnes & Thornburg’s value-based platform,” said Zander, who joined Cooley less than a year ago after previously serving as managing partner of DLA Piper’s operations in San Diego.

Zander attributed his relatively quick exit from Cooley to conflicts of interest that emerged at the firm with his lender clients.

“I primarily represent lenders serving tech and life science companies, as well as their capital providers, and it quickly became apparent that I would encounter more conflicts representing those lenders given Cooley’s representation of clients on the other side of the equation,” Zander said. “Barnes & Thornburg approached me with this opportunity to expand their national footprint, including opening a new location in San Diego and to grow the office.”

Barnes & Thornburg’s expansion into San Diego creates its 14th office nationwide and is another addition by the Indianapolis-based Am Law 100 firm, which scooped up seven new lateral hires to start off 2018.

“Troy brings an extensive practice that presents exciting growth opportunities for the firm in California and nationally,” said a statement from Robert Grand, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg. “Since opening our Los Angeles office seven years ago this month, we’ve grown our California presence to more than 50 attorneys spanning numerous practices. With establishing a San Diego office, we look forward to building on this momentum.”

Barnes & Thornburg came in at No. 92 on The American Lawyer’s Am Law 100 list, with $370 million in gross revenue. The 532-lawyer firm has not yet disclosed early financial numbers for 2017. Cooley, on the other hand, saw its gross revenue break the $1 billion mark last year, while profits per equity partner hit nearly $2.1 million.

“This was not a move based on economics, this was based on finding the best platform to serve my clients,” Zander said.

Prior to Cooley, he spent more than 11 years at DLA Piper, where Zander specialized in representing lenders on middle-market financing transactions for life sciences and technology companies. In January 2017, DLA Piper tapped Zander to head its offices in San Diego, where the global legal giant has a presence downtown and in the Golden Triangle section of the city.

Troy Zander

Zander is currently the only partner working for Barnes & Thornburg in the San Diego. He said the firm plans to add more lawyers to help him expand his team in practices that complement his clients’ needs.

“We will grow it smart and slow and capitalize on what the firm is already doing well for its national platform,” Zander said.

The Golden State native has lived in San Diego for more than 30 years. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego, before graduating from the University of San Diego School of Law. Zander said that in addition to the life science and high-tech community, San Diego has a diverse economy with a number of growing companies in need of corporate and transactional legal services.

As a result, Barnes & Thornburg’s new San Diego office will seek to grow in the areas of corporate, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation and real estate.

“Because [the firm] already has business in San Diego, which was one of the primary drivers in opening the new office, the expectation is that folks from around the country will spend time in this region serving existing Barnes & Thornburg clients,” said Zander, who declined to discuss the names of specific clients.