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LOS ANGELES � It looks like Lewis Feldman is making out big in his recent breakup with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman: He’s leaving the firm, but keeping the MGM Tower office. Several months after the former managing partner of Pillsbury’s Century City office took off for Goodwin Procter, Pillsbury is consolidating operations into its downtown office � and Feldman is moving back in from his temporary digs. “Century City was really more of a redundancy, and not serving our purpose with respect to clients,” said Pillsbury’s Chairman-elect James Rishwain. By the end of the month, Pillsbury will consolidate its 90 L.A. lawyers in the firm’s downtown office, a move Rishwain says is “a positive opportunity to serve clients under a single platform.” But scaling back in Century City runs counter to a trend of firms splashing into the Westside. “The trend is: bigger is better, in terms of more lawyers and more of a presence,” said Mike Catalano, the senior vice president for Studley, a real estate consultancy with its own legal arm. “Pillsbury is closing Century City and consolidating back into downtown, when the trend is precisely the opposite.” That Westside movement is motivated largely by the demographics of important rainmakers, and less about the entertainment/media practices that are traditionally housed there, Catalano said. Many of the lawyers who live on the Westside simply don’t want to commute downtown. “If you only have a downtown office, with today’s aggressive appetite for M&A, your lawyers who live in the Westside are vulnerable” to poaching, he said. That’s what prompted Steptoe & Johnson to open a Century City office this month, in addition to its downtown office. To woo key lawyers, the firm needed to take the congested Los Angeles freeways into account, said Roger Warin, Steptoe’s chairman. It’s less about the clients for Steptoe � lawyers do a lot of work remotely anyway, he said. But Steptoe wanted to attract lawyers from firms such as Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan, a Santa Monica-based firm. “People don’t want to spend three to four hours a day in the car if they’re living by the ocean,” he said. “People who wouldn’t have talked to us before are interested in talking with us � it’s given us more visibility in the metropolitan area.” Along with being a lifestyle outpost, Century City is also seen as ground zero for the entertainment industry and law firms that work with those clients. Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton chose to open a Century City office in 2004 because it had recently acquired an entertainment group and wanted to beef up the practice there. “It was important to the entertainment attorneys that Sheppard have a Westside office,” said partner Linda Michaelson, who lives about a mile from that office. “It’s also gotten a lot of use from lawyers across the firm.” Pillsbury has a media and advertising practice with entertainment overtones, but not a classical entertainment practice. The move back downtown wasn’t a concern for clients, many of whom are spread out across geographical areas, Rishwain said. Ed Poll, a Los Angeles law firm consultant, says for national firms with national clients, having a Century City office isn’t necessary. He points out large firms like Latham & Watkins or Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker that are known for having a large office in one Los Angeles locale. Aside from attorney convenience, “I don’t think you’re adding prestige to have two locations,” Poll said. Rishwain, who used to work in Pillsbury’s Century City office, will be part of a group of about 10 other lawyers joining the downtown office. It will be better to have the firm chairman in a larger office, he said. But Rishwain will go from having the shortest travel time from his Westwood home to the Century City office to a commute he’s not commenting on. Feldman couldn’t be reached to comment on his prize � he was vacationing in Kenya � but the pricey, familiar MGM office space should make it easier to come home.

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