Business of Law

Meet the Neighbors

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Los Angeles, California, population 3.8 million. Unemployment is topping 10 percent, and the city is looking at a record-breaking $400 million budget.

What better time for an out-of-town firm to open a new L.A.-area office?

But that’s what more than a dozen firms have done in roughly the past year. Nuevo Angelenos include Brooks Kushman of Southfield, Mich.; Boston’s Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge; Atlanta’s Constangy, Brooks & Smith, and Haynes and Boone of Dallas.

For most, this is their first foray into the L.A. market.

Each firm has a unique set of reasons for heading to the West Coast, but all are taking advantage of office rates reflecting vacancies in excess of 15 percent while contributing to an unexpected boost in the Southern California legal market where neighboring firms have experienced layoffs.

In addition to merger activity, the misfortune of firms like Dreier (in bankruptcy after the December 2008 indictment of its leader, Marc Dreier, on charges of money laundering and selling bogus securities) placed talented legal teams with books of business in play. Other new arrivals say they’re better able to serve long-established clients.

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