Duane Kumagai (left) and Judy Lam, Maynard Cooper & Gale (Courtesy photo)

Birmingham, Alabama-based Maynard Cooper & Gale, which has been busy growing in Northern California in recent years, has absorbed a Los Angeles-based litigation boutique to expand its operations in the Golden State.

Judy Lam and Duane Kumagai, formerly partners at the Kumagai Law Group, will co-lead the new Maynard Cooper Los Angeles office, which is in Century City at 1901 Avenue of the Stars.

“We like the people, we trust the people, we like having the capabilities the firm has to offer for our clients, which is a lot more than what we can as a litigation boutique,” said Kumagai, explaining the reasons for merging his firm with Maynard Cooper.

“I have begun to do work with Maynard Cooper lawyers,” added Lam. “It was just like working with Duane. They were friendly, they were helpful, they would share their knowledge, and they treated me like a partner, even though we were at different firms.”

Unlike other large firms, Lam said, she did not feel the pressure to conform to the Big Law culture at Maynard Cooper. Lam and Kumagai are both joining Maynard Cooper as partners in the firm’s complex litigation practice.

The two partners have worked together at the boutique firm for about five years. They met about 15 years ago as opposing counsel on a case. Kumagai has 30 years of experience litigating commercial, real property and business fraud disputes in California. He also represents creditors in corporate bankruptcy cases. Lam, on the other hand, has over 20 years of experience in commercial litigation. She handles complex business disputes in real estate and construction, banking and finance, business torts and franchise.

Also joining Lam and Kumagai in the Los Angeles office are of counsels Richard Macias and Cindy Mekari Rucker. Macias focuses his practice on commercial law and business litigation. Rucker’s litigation work focuses on representing corporations in matters relating to life, health, and disability coverage.

“Los Angeles has actually been in Maynard Cooper’s strategic growth plan for some time,” said a statement from Jeff Grantham, managing shareholder at Maynard Cooper. “We have been doing a significant amount of work in the Los Angeles area for the past several years, particularly in insurance and financial services litigation. Even though we entered the California market in San Francisco back in 2014, Los Angeles remained top of mind as we continued to expand and increase our presence in California.”

As of now, the Alabama firm has four attorneys in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, its San Francisco outpost has grown to an office with nine lawyers. Drew Kitchen, managing partner of Maynard Cooper’s San Francisco office added that the offices have “tremendous synergy” as many of the clients have significant operations in both locations.

“I like to think that in picking us to open the office, what they saw in us is that we are experienced, we are local, we have practiced our entire careers in Los Angeles, so we know the market, the bench, we know the bar here,” Kumagai said.